A completely dominant performance from the opening faceoff to the final horn resulted in the third win on the bounce for Sheldon Keefe and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

First, we’ll cover the goals and then get into some post-game notes.

1-0 Leafs

Right off the opening draw, the Leafs controlled the pace of play and jumped all over the Red Wings, starting with the Matthews line and a Rielly – Barrie pairing followed by a pairing of Dermott – Ceci and the Tavares line on the next shift. There was an air of inevitability to the Leafs making it 1-0 just over a minute into the game:

Following a good puck recovery by John Tavares and a nice feed back to the point by Ilya Mikheyev, credit the relentless work in front by Zach Hyman to spin around his check and plant himself right in the goalie’s grill to completely take Jimmy Howard’s eyes away on the play.

You have to rewind this sequence back a little earlier to find the genesis of the goal — the Red Wings turned it over at the center line after Dermott did a good job of gapping up against the rush and snuffing out the play, with Tavares providing excellent support through the middle of the ice tracking back to allow Dermott to be aggressive in the neutral zone.

2-0 Leafs

On the very next shift, the Leafs continued to apply the pressure by working off the cycle and staying in constant motion, an area of emphasis in practice this week. A little over a minute after they opened the scoring, the Leafs doubled the lead:

Pierre Engvall has been a revelation since his recall and his work along the wall is critical to this sequence, as is the Leafs winning all the puck races in the o-zone. Tyson Barrie put the puck on net and got a fortunate deflection for his third goal in three consecutive games. Suddenly, relatively low-danger point shots are falling for Barrie and the Leafs.

3-0 Leafs

On the 3-0 goal, you can see the clear patterns of what the Leafs are doing under Sheldon Keefe in the offensive zone in terms of creating options for one another in five-man units with forwards roaming high in the zone and the D activating; that’s initially Ilya Mikheyev in possession up high. The Red Wings coverage is confused easily here.


On the play, Jimmy Howard was hurt and left the game in discomfort, which set the stage for Tavares bury this one past a labouring goaltender, but it was a nice cut move into the slot and release nonetheless.

The Leafs gave up a few scoring chances in the second half of the first period after losing their flow a bit; there was a long delay for the Red Wings’ Jonathan Bernier (who was sick and sitting in the press box) to get dressed and replace Howard in the net, but Andersen made a couple of saves and there was nothing too sustained about the attack from the Red Wings.

4-0 Leafs

Like in the previous period, the Leafs started the period by dictating the game to the opposition, attacking the net off the cycle and moving the puck into productive areas in the slot. Like Tavares’ 3-0 goal, this sequence started with a forward at the point; in this case, Andreas Johnsson:

That’s a confident goal scorer’s goal — an impeccably skilled finish from Nylander.

5-0 Leafs

This period was a completely dominant performance for the Leafs in terms of their puck possession and sustained offensive zone pressure.

Like Matthews’ goal in Colorado, he presented himself high in the o-zone; it creates so much more dynamic preshot movement than simply standing relatively static in the mid-slot and watching the defensemen flip pucks into packs of bodies.

This play was reviewed, but it was confirmed to be a good goal after a lengthy inspection, with the NHL later crediting the goal to Andreas Johnsson.

6-0 Leafs

With Toronto comfortably in the lead, they found themselves on the power play after Johnsson’s great play drew a penalty. He was able to one-up himself:

First off, what a skilled sequence; first Spezza’s threaded pass and from there, an impressive display of hand-eye coordination to keep control and bury the puck on the backhand. This was a rare second-unit power-play contribution — the Leafs have had it all going for them so far in the Keefe era.

It was then about preserving the shutout Andersen with tidier final shifts to the game than in Arizona, and the Leafs delivered.

Post-Game Notes

  • This is a bit of a tough game to analyze in a good way for the Leafs. It felt over before 10 minutes were through. It looked like a determined A squad against an unmotivated B squad in a preseason game at points. The Leafs did a great job of staying engaged for the full 60 minutes, racking up 50+ shots and even putting together some dominant o-zone shifts in the final five from the Tavares and Matthews lines back-to-back with the score at 6-0. A complete 60-minute performance top to bottom.
  • This was a four-line, three-pairing effort through and through, but no player looked as dominant as William Nylander did from the second period onwards especially. At 5v5, he registered a 62.50 CF%, a 61.76 FF%, a 67.86 SF%, a 68.13 xGF%, a 60.87 SCF%, and a 81.82 HDCF%.
    The Leafs’ dominance in the possession game of late is bringing out the best in Nylander, who is owning the puck and making positive play after positive play. This is as confident as he’s looked since 2017-18. That extra freedom to hang onto pucks in the neutral and offensive zones as opposed to always advancing pucks up ice/toward the net quickly suits Nylander’s strengths perfectly.

  • In the third period, with the game well in hand and both teams watching the clock tick, Jake Muzzin actually tried this in the offensive zone. Hockey is supposed to be fun, and the Leafs are officially having fun again.

  • Tyson Barrie finished the night with his second consecutive multi-point game (a goal and an assist) and was awarded the game ball for his efforts. At 5v5, he recorded an impressive 62.86 CF%, a 60.00 FF%, a 68.18 SF%, a 71.09 xGF%, a 61.11 SCF%, and a 66.67 HDCF%. Even after the Avalanche scored on the opening shift, Keefe has continued to put Barrie in positions to succeed, from starting the opening shift with Morgan Rielly for three straight games to getting an opportunity on the first power-play unit. There looks to be a lot more confidence and decisiveness to his game offensively now under the new systems; he’s playing with a freedom that suggests way less thinking and way more reliance on the offensive instincts he’s trusted to great effect throughout his career.
  • When it comes to forward lines, no line was more dominant than the fourth line in what was easily the best performance we’ve seen from that line in some time; they played over 12 minutes in the blowout situation, and their ability to generate o-zone shift after o-zone shift set up the lines to follow and sustained momentum for the team. The trio of Dmytro TimashovFrederik Gauthier, and Pierre Engvall combined to log a 76.19 CF%, a 70.49 FF%, a 75.00 SF%, a 73.20 xGF%, a 90.91 SCF%, and a 100.00 HDCF%. As mentioned earlier, Engvall has made an impressive impact in his young NHL stint. While he didn’t find the scoresheet, he was instrumental in controlling play in the offensive zone, using his big frame and long reach to extend cycles. He’s a handful driving in off the wing, too, with his length, power, and puck control.
  • Over the first 40 minutes, the fourth line was over 80% possession, outscored the opposition 1-0 and outshot them 7-0. The Tavares line wasn’t far behind at 72% with a 13-1 5v5 shot count. The Tavares line has developed a real “matchup line” identity in these last three games — they largely defend by owning the puck in the o-zone but are tracking back hard and playing physical without it as well. The limitations of Ilya Mikheyev‘s skillset was starting to be questioned by some when he cooled off following his hot start, but he’s made some really sharp plays off the cycle since his promotion and he’s now up to five points in his last four games played. That puts him back in the top five in rookie points scoring with 16pts in 25GP.
  • This was one of the easier shutouts Frederik Andersen will have in his NHL career as the Leafs made his life pretty easy on Wednesday night (with the lone exception being this glove save in the second period). He finished with 25 saves, only 4 HD shots against, 10 LD shots against, and just two rebound shots against. He wasn’t the primary reason the Leafs won this game and he won’t mind that one bit, especially since it was his first shutout in over a calendar year. The last time the Leafs recorded a shutout was last January 5th against the Vancouver Canucks by Michael Hutchinson, who is going to get an opportunity to register his first win of the season this weekend against the Buffalo Sabres. If there is one box left for Keefe to check to really put his stamp on this team, it’s a backup goalie win.
  • A nice benefit to a blowout win, knowing a back to back is on the docket this weekend: No forward played more than Matthews’ 16:48. Only two defensemen eclipsed 20 minutes and just barely: Dermott and Rielly played 20:13 and 20:16, respectively.
  • The numbers under Sheldon Keefe through three games: The Leafs have led for 149 of 180 minutes and outscored the opposition 14-4. They’ve controlled 58% of the shot attempts (even despite multi-goal leads early in all three games) and 63% of the expected goals. In a word, “wow.”

Clip of the Night

Notable Stats

Game Flow: 5v5 Shot Attempts

Heat Map: 5v5 Shot Locations


Condensed Game