The Maple Leafs kicked off their four-game road trip with a hard luck 2-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings. Here are five takeaways from this game.
The Maple Leafs kept the Kings to 20 shots on goal. In terms of shot attempts, they limited Los Angeles to 48. To do that against a team that has been a model for how to play the proper way over the last five years is encouraging. It was the second consecutive night where the Leafs held their opponent to 20 shots. The Leafs haven’t put together back-to-back games of allowing 20 shots or less since March 12-15 of 2008. There are too many positives in this game that the Leafs have to remain encouraged about how the team has buckled down defensively.
When Peter Horachek took over as Interim Head Coach, practices and morning skates took on a different tone. Included in that was the centres spending a considerable amount of time on faceoffs. Nazem Kadri won 14 faceoffs in Los Angeles, matching a career high. The Leafs have improved steadily in that department and that is having a carryover effect when it comes to possession.
Neither goalie was particularly busy on this night. Jonathan Bernier was stellar in his first complete game as a member of the Leafs in Los Angeles as a goal scored by the Kings in the opening minute was the only blemish. Martin Jones was just a little bit better and the Kings goaltender picked up the shutout, making 19 saves. Jones has flourished in a role that Bernier also had success in. Depth in goal has been a Kings strong suit as of late.
This was particularly disappointing for Toronto. The Leafs had four opportunities with the man-advantage, but weren’t able to capitalize. Fresh off a night where Toronto scored two power play goals, while the Kings have struggled, Los Angeles was able to flip the script.
Many fans will be concerned that the offence hasn’t been there for the Leafs in these last couple of games. The Leafs are getting adjusted to buckling down defensively, and for now, it has come at a cost of offense. The Leafs didn’t forget how to score. It will come back in time once they get used to this new style that they are playing.