The Toronto Maple Leafs came out of Columbus with a 4-1 victory, without the services of Joffrey Lupul. Some key takeaways from this performance.
Daniel Winnik’s Versatility
A three-night performance for someone who isn’t known for putting up points, Winnick’s versatility has been unmatched by any other member of the team this season. After starting opening night on a line with Matt Frattin and Peter Holland, other linemates include Richard Panik, Joffrey Lupul, Nazem Kadri and now Phil Kessel.
Winnik was instrumental in helping Kadri bust out of a six-game point drought on Phil Kessel’s opening-game goal. He also assisted on Kadri’s first goal in seven games. On this his 500th NHL game, Winnik took the outright team lead in +/- with six. His ability to play on different lines may have an effect on who the Leafs elect to call up in the wake of Lupul’s broken right hand.
Kessel and Kadri
This pair is working well together since the Leafs shuffled up their lines. Toronto improved to 5-0-0 this season when Kessel has scored a goal this season. Kadri got his first multi-point performance since March 13. That was in a game against the LA Kings where Toronto had 80 points. What followed after was an eight-game losing streak in which no points were acquired in the standings. It’s clear that Kadri’s biggest asset to this team is his ability to score points.
Bernier In Form
Bouncing back from a tough performance against the Bruins, Jonathan Bernier nearly posted another shutout. Cam Atkinson put a stop to that bid midway through the third period with his power-play goal for Columbus. Bernier’s shoutout streak of 110:05 is the longest he has had since becoming a member of the Maple Leafs in the summer of 2013.
Getting his first chance to play due to Lupul’s injury, Carter Ashton didn’t look out of place. He only played 7:38 and had a couple of takeaways. It is not clear if it was enough to keep him in the lineup against the Blackhawks on Saturday night.
Clarkson to the net
Embracing that ability to pinch down low, Clarkson scored a nice goal off a deflection in front of Jackets goaltender Curtis McElhenny. Clarkson did keep the full face shield on again, but still intends to take it off once his eye is fully healed.