Toronto Maple Leafs: Work still to be done after bounce back win

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Alexander Kerfoot (15) celebrates scoring. (John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY Sports)
Toronto Maple Leafs forward Alexander Kerfoot (15) celebrates scoring. (John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY Sports) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs did what they needed to do to get the win over the Ottawa Senators but they are certainly not free and clear of the issues that plague them.

After both teams combined for 11 goals on Monday, neither one wanted to make the critical mistake which was evident with the Leafs winning 2-1. We have seen teams try to play a trap-style defence and hope to strike when the Leafs make a mistake but give Toronto credit because they did their best to remain patient.

"“It was clear the way the night was going, it was going to be one where you got to earn your offence, have patience, got to keep your structure,” said head coach Sheldon Keefe after the game. “And I thought we did that for the most part. There’s some things we definitely want to clean up but it’s another one of those games, really close, tight, can go either way and you gotta stay disciplined and committed…to finally get our two points.”"

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The best way to describe the Leafs’ effort in the first period would be to simply say mediocre but after that, they got their legs under them. Once again the top line of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and Joe Thornton was the most productive one at even strength and they saw the bulk of the ice time once again.

Since returning from his injury, Thornton continues to show why it was premature to be concerned about his fit on the Leafs’ top line. Not only has he been a factor offensively but his hockey IQ has been on display with some subtle smart plays.

As long as they continue to carry the workload, the Leafs will have a great chance in any game. That doesn’t appear to be happening anytime soon and you can’t blame Keefe for giving them every opportunity to do what they do best.

While it’s encouraging to see how productive the top line has been, there has been a dropoff in the play beyond that.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Another off night for Morgan Rielly a bit concerning

One of the benefits from the addition of T.J. Brodie has been the support that he’s offered Morgan Rielly.

It’s no secret that Rielly’s best asset is his ability to be a facilitator offensively but defensively, he doesn’t bring the same upside. This is certainly why Brodie was a priority on Day 1 of free agency as he’s certainly covered up his partner’s miscues.

If you look at Rielly’s possession stats and they’re not flattering at the moment. He has a CF% of 47.63 and an expected goals rating of 49.76% (generally you want to be above 50% in both categories). Essentially there is a lack of balance in the quality of scoring chances he creates versus what he gives up.

There is certainly a lot of time left in the season for Rielly to turn his defensive game around but there should be some warning lights flashing by the Leafs analytics department.

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What are your thoughts on the Leafs’ win over Ottawa? Should there be any cause for concern about Rielly’s play? Let us know in the comments below.