The Toronto Maple Leafs started the season 1-0 with William Nylander playing a crucial role in the win.
Down 3-1 against the Montreal Canadiens, the Toronto Maple Leafs needed a spark and got one in the second period.
No, I’m not talking about the Wayne Simmonds fight with Ben Chiarot that certainly got the blood pumping but it didn’t have an immediate impact considering the Leafs didn’t score until eight minutes after. It was a goal by William Nylander with two minutes left with Toronto down 3-1 that started to turn things around.
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This is not me saying the Simmonds fight was pointless considering the Leafs weren’t playing great as it seemed like the team started playing with more urgency. This led to a couple of power plays in that period which also led to John Tavares tying the game just before the end of the second period.
Considering how many players said the Simmonds fight played a turning point in the game, it’s clear that they appreciate the role Simmonds is taking on considering there aren’t many who are willing to do it.
"“He got the boys going,” Nylander said to reporters. “We were a little soft and slow in the beginning, and after that, we got fired up and got going, which was huge.”"
The Nylander, Tavares, and Jimmy Vesey line was the most productive one for the Leafs in that game and it was the young Swede who showed once again why he is crucial to the team’s success. He wasn’t just making big plays offensively but you noticed him getting involved defensively and dare I say that he looked “engaged.”
For some, this is the Nylander we saw last season and although he got moved away from Auston Matthews and Zach Hyman, his production hasn’t suffered. His willingness to shoot more and go to the net for scoring chances has shown Nylander’s willingness to adapt his game.
If that continues, it wouldn’t be surprising if he’ll go a long way in proving that the 31 goals he had in 68 games was no fluke.
Looking at other performances in that game, the Auston Matthews line was dangerous and had their chances but struggled to get them past Carey Price. Matthews played 25:02 including over four minutes on the power play as the Leafs tried to spark a comeback, he’ll likely see a boost in production shortly especially if he has seven shots and well over 14 attempts on net.
The concern right now has to be the third pairing as Zach Bogosian struggled on the third pairing with Travis Dermott. The veteran took two penalties that help Montreal get some momentum early but it’s clear that he needs to be better if he wants to remain in the lineup after playing just 10:49.
What were your thoughts on Nylander’s performance against the Canadiens? What else stood out in that victory? Let us know in the comments below.