Toronto Maple Leafs: Complaints about “dirty play” are laughable

Winnipeg Jets forward Nikolaj Ehlers (27) and Toronto Maple Leafs forward John Taveres (91). (Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports)
Winnipeg Jets forward Nikolaj Ehlers (27) and Toronto Maple Leafs forward John Taveres (91). (Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports) /

When asked whether the Toronto Maple Leafs play dirty, Wayne Simmonds didn’t take too kindly to this suggestion and defended his team.

"“Every time we’ve played them, they’ve tried to run us out of the building to start games,” Simmonds told reporters on Friday. “We come back, and we’re physical, and now we’re a dirty team? I don’t buy that. We’re defending ourselves.”"

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This comes after the Winnipeg Jets lost forward Adam Lowry after a collision with Alex Galchenyuk and Joe Thornton received a fine for interfering with Mathieu Perreault. There was also some issue with a hit Nick Foligno delivered on Josh Morrissey. 

Funny enough if you rewatch the hit by Foligno, Pierre-Luc Dubois also delivered a cross-check to the back of Foligno and no one is questioning that. Instead, people look back on Zach Hyman receiving a fine for high-sticking Neal Pionk and totally overlook the two cross-checks and the slash Hyman took before he retaliated.

Yes, it is true that the league has fined the Leafs but should that label them as a dirty team? Ask people who watch or cover the team and they’ll say they don’t even scratch the surface are cross the line.

They brought in Simmonds to help add some toughness to their lineup and he showed by escorting Dubois off of Jack Campbell. Seeing this play should give head coach Sheldon Keefe more incentive to play Simmonds especially after scoring a goal.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Depth continues to impress when called upon

There is no doubting the Leafs are a better team when Zach Hyman is on the ice and fortunately, the Leafs were able to slot Foligno into his spot on the top line.

Kyle Dubas made it known that Rasmus Sandin, Timothy Lijegren and Ben Hutton would likely get playing time down the stretch. Sandin was brought in with Travis Dermott coming out but now with Zach Bogosian set to miss four weeks, Dermott is back in.

For most of the season, the Leafs defence has been pretty set in stone and part of that had to do with not being afforded the chance to carry an extra defenceman for salary cap purposes. Now, the team will need to figure out how to ensure their depth gets the reps it needs in case of other injuries (knock on wood).

So far Sandin hasn’t looked out of place despite limited playing time over the last year. Even Adam Brooks is proving to be a valuable addition to the bottom six and should continue to play until his play drops off.

This now magnifies the need for Toronto to eventually figure out how which players will come out of the lineup when Hyman returns. They also have to consider the same if Riley Nash draws in.

Pierre Engvall seems like the logical player to take out and Brooks might be as well. That’s a problem for Keefe to handle in a week or two but for now, the Leafs need to give these players a look so that they know what they have.

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What are your thoughts on the Leafs being called a “dirty team” and is there a player who should draw into the lineup between now and the end of the season? Let us know in the comments below.