Pretty much everything that could have gone wrong went wrong tonight.
The Leafs picked up their third consecutive loss tonight, falling to a team that was without Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Bryan Rust, and Jeff Carter. Oh, and it was 7-1. The Penguins scored about a billion goals off of weird deflections, and the Leafs took about a billion offensive-zone penalties. This game was cursed.
Let’s get to the report cards.
Pierre Engvall (LW, #47) — He was somehow a +1 in a 7-1 game, which is a borderline miracle. As the president of the Engvall fan club, I had to give him four stars for this incredible achievement. The Leafs won the 5-on-5 shot attempts battle 10-3 when Engvall was on the ice. He also picked up an assist on the Leafs‘ only goal. He somehow actually played quite well tonight.
Wayne Simmonds (RW, #24) — Simmonds was creating havoc in front when Spezza scored the Leafs‘ first-period goal, and he also fought Brian Boyle in the third. While a fight doesn’t usually rocket you up to a four-star rating, the Leafs sure needed someone to show a little bit of passion in that period. His line got off to a decent start. He looks a step quicker than he was last year.
TJ Brodie (RD, #78) — He broke up multiple odd-man rushes in the first, one of which led directly to a Leafs goal. While those plays won’t show up in his individual stats, he was his usual self tonight and bailed out his team as much as he could. His partner was terrible tonight, but that’s not his fault. He was only on the ice for one goal against at five-on-five. If it wasn’t for him, this game might have been 9-0.
Auston Matthews (C, #34) — Matthews hit the post in the first period and had a goal called off later on. He wasn’t on the ice for a goal against, and the Leafs won the 5-on-5 shot attempts battle 22-6 when he was on the ice. He simply can’t catch a break at the moment, but it’s tough to give a player of his calibre a higher rating when he was held pointless in a 7-1 loss.
Jason Spezza (C, #19) — Spezza scored the team’s only goal, but he gave the goal back in the third with a terrible turnover. He also took a bad offensive-zone penalty in the first period as well, so I have a tough time giving him more than three stars. Being even in a 7-1 game is enough for three stars, particularly since the Leafs out-chanced the Penguins when he was on the ice.
Mitch Marner (RW, #16) — Giving him two stars rather than one star probably won’t be popular, but he was one of two Leafs who wasn’t on the ice for a goal against. I liked his work on the penalty kill, while the power play actually created a few good chances early. With just one point through six games, I’d give him one star if these report cards were based on the last two weeks rather than just one game. His offensive-zone penalty was not excusable.
The Third Pair — Sandin and Liljegren were only on the ice for one goal against, and Sandin had a big hit that ended up drawing a retaliatory penalty. However, the goal against went off Liljegren and in, and Sandin committed a bad turnover at the end of the second period. They were relatively uneventful tonight, but I’m not in the mood to bump them up to three stars.
The Second Line — They were relatively uneventful tonight, other than when Bunting nearly scored on the power play. Players like Tavares and Nylander should be able to win their matchup against a short-handed team, but they failed to do so. While they don’t deserve three stars tonight, I think they were better than the players in the one-star category.
The Third Line – Kerfoot, Kampf, and Kase were on the ice for four goals against, which isn’t exactly ideal for a shutdown line. They didn’t even have Crosby or Malkin to shutdown either, so this was a pretty disastrous night for this unit. Kerfoot took a dumb offensive zone penalty in the second, while Kase committed a turnover that led directly to a goal against.
The Muzzin-Holl Pair — The fourth goal went off Muzzin’s skate and in. This pair was on the ice for three other goals against as well. Like the third line, this is supposed to be a shutdown unit, and they were the complete opposite tonight. Crosby and Malkin were out of the lineup, but they still couldn’t do their jobs effectively tonight.
Morgan Rielly (LD, #44) — The Leafs gave up two goals in the first two minutes of the second period, which prompted Keefe to take a timeout. Seconds later, Rielly committed a brutal giveaway. He didn’t generate much offensively tonight. It’s never a good sign for him when his partner is breaking up multiple odd-man rush attempts.
Nick Ritchie (LW, #20) — He just looks like he doesn’t belong in the NHL. He’s now played six games on the Leafs’ top line without a point to show for it. I can’t even think of a single positive thing that he’s done. If it wasn’t for his $2.5 million cap hit, he’d probably be on the Marlies by now. I have no idea why he’s still on the top line, but I’m pretty convinced that he’s a below-average hockey player. His on-ice results were fine tonight, but I don’t know if he did much of anything to earn that. I’d scratch him at this point.
Jack Campbell (G, #36) — He gave up five goals in just two periods, and he definitely should have had the wrap-around goal. While It’s tough to defend a goalie with that stat line, it’s worth noting that he was incredibly unlucky tonight. Three of the goals came off of weird deflections that weren’t his fault, but he still didn’t have a great night.
Michael Hutchinson (G, #30)- After a brutal performance on Friday night, Hutchinson entered the game in the third and proceeded to let in a goal in just 20 seconds. He gave up a second goal just two minutes later. Hutch did post a .919 save percentage in eight games last season, but the team is losing confidence in him awfully quickly.
Here’s a quick look at where each team’s shots were coming from at even strength, courtesy of Natural Stat Trick.
Tweets of the Night
Tonight’s top-six forwards, by total cap hit:
Toronto Maple Leafs – $43.95 million
Pittsburgh Penguins – $16.88 million
— luke fox (@lukefoxjukebox) October 23, 2021
william nylander selke watch,,, commence pic.twitter.com/Z5hrQ9EeHq
— dylan (@dylanfremlin) October 23, 2021
the Pens broadcast just said “You wanna prove you can beat this Leafs team regardless of who’s in the lineup.” please believe me when i say that has been unequivocally established already
— Acting the Fulemin (@ATFulemin) October 23, 2021
i knew in my heart when i made this tweet. i knew one night they would come for me https://t.co/MDKjOKv27n
— Acting the Fulemin (@ATFulemin) October 24, 2021
Final Grade: F-
Oh, and Frederik Andersen is 100% going to shut out the Leafs on Monday night.