The bottom six stepped up as the Toronto Maple Leafs capped a successful Western road trip (3 for 4) with a convincing win in Edmonton on Saturday night.

Your game in ten:

1.  A total 180 in first-period fortunes: The Leafs have outscored the opposition 15-3 in first periods since Sheldon Keefe took over the bench. Outscored 29-17 in the opening frame before the coaching change, they’re now back to even in first-period goal differential (32 for, 32 against). Certainly, there is a desperation/engagement factor at play now that the team has had the wakeup call of a coaching change, but you wonder how much of it has to do with Keefe freeing the team up to be aggressive and not to fear the early mistake as much, and whether that’s preventing the team from being as tight as they were early in games before. Whatever it is, it’s a huge development — catch-up hockey is losing hockey, as they say.

Now he just needs to devise a way for the team to draw more penalties.

2.  Pretty funny to think that Mike Babcock was routinely questioned about Auston Matthews’ minutes in the last couple of years and now Keefe, in the 11th game of his coaching tenure, played Matthews less than all but one game in his Leaf career under Babcock (among those not impacted by injury) with just 14:34 TOI — and that game referenced was the final night of the regular season in 2017-18 when the coaching staff was conserving his minutes in a meaningless game vs. Montreal.

It was pretty refreshing, actually. If the depth lines are feeling it like they were tonight, roll with it; put the players that are going over the boards, and the ones that aren’t engaged can sit out some shifts. Three of the four Leafs lines were over 60% in expected Goals For percentage and Scoring Chance percentage. The Matthews line was a 16% in xGF and were out-chanced 8-4. Needless to say, this line should be giving the team a lot more than this against a shallow Oilers team (their primary matchup included five 5v5 minutes against Sam Gagner) with the Tavares line snowplowing in front of them.

3.  Hard to know how much of that should be pinned on Matthews-Nylander and how much is the obvious lack of chemistry on this line with Kasperi Kapanen on it. There is going to be a growing chorus of people suggesting Kapanen is prime trade bait based on the appearance that every line he departs seems to improve and every line he joins seems to leave something to be desired lately; plus, there is some possibility the new systems aren’t suiting Kapanen’s game as well (when on a skilled possession line) with his straight-ahead style of game. That’s probably unfair to Kapanen to an extent, but it’s a natural question once Trevor Moore is back and Andreas Johnsson nears a return — who falls out of the top nine?

Keep in mind 20-goal scorers with game-breaking speed are nothing to write off, and Kapanen is a more than capable third-line RW. If the Leafs ever end up fully healthy up front, Pierre Engvall and Trevor Moore comprising 2/3rds of your 4th line is the type of depth that could really push this team to another level.

4.  You don’t want to get too far ahead of yourself on Justin Holl’s ability to play shutdown minutes against the game’s elite consistently going forward, but this was a really impressive performance, and the encouraging part is that it wasn’t just a one-off night where he played out of his mind — it’s more a culmination of Holl earning more and more confidence in all areas of his game.

He’s making consistently good decisions with the puck — when to move it, when to hang onto it and buy time or turn it back, when to rush it up ice himself — and his gaps and stick have been excellent defensively. Pucks aren’t getting through him easily, he’s leveraging his 6’3 frame and reach well defensively, and he showed his strong mobility over all ranges defending the fastest player in the game tonight. He gets it done without much flash or fanfare; you just catch yourself going, “good/smart play by Holl,” a lot throughout the night.

Holl and Muzzin’s on-ice numbers against Draisaitl and McDavid: over 65% in GF%, CF%, and xGF%, plus the one goal for and zero against. Holl played a career-high 26:10 partly due to his own play and partly due to the Tyson Barrie injury situation. Just a monster game from the best feel-good story/revelation of the season so far.

This was a good look at Holl’s play between periods:

5.  Not that they had their best game, but it was good to see Frederik Gauthier and Dmytro Timashov get back into the lineup tonight. We spoke earlier about the identity-less fourth line that hadn’t been good since the first month of the season; Timashov and Gauthier were the main reason for the early success. They went quiet for an extended stretch of games before the Babcock firing; it’s hard to assess as they were bogged down by extreme deployment as Babcock leaned on them (plus Shore) in the d-zone more and more. It looks like that burden won’t be as heavy under Keefe; the fourth line doesn’t see the same kind of own-zone deployment Gauthier-Shore did, and tonight they started just three of seven shifts there.

Timashov is stronger on the puck and can hold onto it longer than either Petan or Aberg, he sees the ice and makes plays just as well, and he’s arguably better defensively; it’s been easier for him to make an impact down the lineup playing on a non-scoring line. Gauthier is always going to leave you wanting more in terms of both his physical engagement in the game (at his size) and his ability to finish plays, but he’s a handful when he’s pushing play up ice and moving his feet on the cycle, and his finish on the put-away goal was well-taken. It’s a continued work in progress, but this line will include Trevor Moore shortly, and it would be interesting to see what a Timashov – Gauthier – Moore/Spezza line would look like.

6.  That’s assuming Pierre Engvall is going to stay up on the third line with Alex Kerfoot and Ilya Mikheyev for now after a two-goal game for the trio tonight — and he’s certainly earned an extended look there. That line had pace, tenacity, and puck pursuit in spades tonight, and the size (combined with the speed and ability to handle the puck with both players) on the wings allows Keefe to throw a different element over the boards at the opposition. All three are responsible enough players that it’s not a line you are totally uncomfortable with if it is caught out against a dangerous scoring unit. As the Leafs were on the road and the Matthews line was struggling, they had to handle a number of shifts against McDavid (over seven minutes at evens) and acquitted themselves very well largely by defending 200 feet from their own net — they controlled over 90% of the expected goals in those seven minutes as well as 70% of the possession, and Mikheyev’s goal came with McDavid on the ice.

7.  While chasing the game, the Oilers were credited with just three high-danger scoring chances at 5v5 in the final two periods combined. The Leafs did a pretty good job of protecting the middle and staying patient defensively; while far from perfect still, they also just didn’t feed the Oilers transition game quite as much as they did against Vancouver and Calgary by living to fight another day a little more often with their puck management.

There were a few lengthy own-zone shifts where you would like the Leafs to be able to dig in and win a battle to stop the cycle faster; one came after James Neal took a run at three different Leaf players and the Oilers fed off of it in the second period for a long offensive-zone shift. Another came after the Oilers’ power play in the second period; sometimes the Leafs seem to get into a cycle of repeated one-arm pushes to the outside rather than establishing hard inside positioning and winning a physical battle to stop a play in its tracks. But the structure was better overall tonight. Frederik Andersen was rock solid, but he didn’t have to be the best Leaf on the ice by a mile.

8.  This was a massive road trip from the John Tavares line. They consistently came out on the right side of the possession and scoring battle throughout some tough road stops and some tough matchups. They’re tracking back hard as a unit defensively — Zach Hyman has been fantastic finishing his backchecks and forechecks with extra hard strides — and the line is spending a lot of time on offense as a result. Over 56 even-strength minutes together (five games), they’re over 70% in Goals For percentage, 60% in expected Goals For, and just under 60% in shot share. As big as anything that’s changed in the coaching and special teams departments is this line getting healthy and rolling again.

9.  It doesn’t sound like it’s going to be a long-term issue with Tyson Barrie based on the negative x-ray on his ankle, but it could mean some games on the sideline, and the importance of the games this week are such that calling up Rasmus Sandin would make a lot of sense, as Chris Johnston implied in the second intermission Headlines segment. That likely means Travis Dermott to his off-side and Cody Ceci back up with Morgan Rielly (who played his best game in some time this evening) in the interim, but the Leafs penalty kill (third-period goal aside) has been rounding into form — Martin Marincin isn’t really needed there — and the emphasis should be on avoiding any drop off in puck-moving ability on the backend at 5v5.

10.  A 3-1-0 road trip through St. Louis, Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton is exactly what the Leafs needed and should serve as a good confidence builder, but there is little time to rest on any laurels — these four-point divisional battles like the one on Tuesday versus Buffalo could be either big springboards or big setbacks as the Leafs look to scratch and claw their way back into a divisional playoff spot.

Game Flow: 5v5 Shot Attempts

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Edmonton Oilers

Heat Map: 5v5 Shot Attempts

Extended Highlights: Leafs 4 vs. Oilers 1