The Maple Leafs top line got caught a few times for shifts as long as 90 seconds. The longest of shifts occurred before the Minnesota goal, which opened the scoring. The Maple Leafs can’t be faulted for this happening from time-to-time, with other lines being mixed in a bit of blender. It was a rough adjustment for Toronto, but one the team will need to figure out as they take on the Jets on Saturday.
Not having the services of Joffrey Lupul or Peter Holland was expected but the Leafs were dealt another blow when they learned they would be without Nazem Kadri as well. The shuffle gave the Leafs little time to find a solution for the chasm they have up the middle. That being said, they did admirable work but it wasn’t enough to fill the boots offensively.
Possession and shots
The Maple Leafs had better possession numbers in this game and outshot the Wild 35-29. This marked the first time in 10 games the Leafs outshot the opposition. Unfortunately, they weren’t rewarded with the result they would have liked and the hockey gods didn’t work in their favour as they have many times before. The Leafs started the game well, slowing down the pace of play and it had all the makings of a good road game. If there is any carryover into Winning, this should be it.
Jonathan Bernier was solid early on and his stops included a highlight reel save on Thomas Vanek. The game was always within reach, but as pointed out in the three keys, this game was likely going to come down to goaltending. Darcy Kuemper won the duel, making 34 saves for the win. Kuemper has only given up five goals over his last three starts. Bernier had no chance on Minnesota’s opening goal.
Opportunity for more time
Richard Panik logged more ice time than he has seen in early two months at 13:17. Other players will get more of an opportunity once they find some chemistry. Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel played north of 25 minutes on this night and that simply isn’t sustainable. Expect other players to see increased ice time and begin to make the most of their opportunities.