This was a tidy, business-like win for the Maple Leafs.

The Leafs won last night, traveled south, showed up in Philly, and simply took care of this game. There was little drama in it; the result never really felt in question, and whenever the game turned slightly interesting, the Leafs simply dug in and padded their lead. The entire third period was basically a snooze, which is how it should be against a bad team. 

This 6-2 win capped a 3-0-0 season-series sweep for the Leafs over the Flyers in which they outscored Philly 15-6.

Your game in 10:

1.   Unfortunately, TJ Brodie was ruled out before the game with an undisclosed injury, but it opened up the door for Conor Timmins to return to the lineup. Most importantly, I thought the injection of a few new bodies into the lineup provided a bit of a spark.

The Leafs have been poor against weaker teams for a couple of seasons now, often looking stale in those matchups. It’s a long season, so it’s nice to see new faces come in fresh/hungry and add some life to the team.

The Leafs came out flying in this game. They dominated the puck for the first five minutes and created a number of scoring chances, highlighted by a David Kampf opportunity all alone in the slot where he went to his backhand and shot it wide.

Natural Stat Trick recorded the scoring chances at 15-7 in favour of the Leafs after 20 minutes.

2.    The Leafs deservedly opened the scoring halfway through the first period. Mitch Marner picked up the puck just inside his own blue line, skated freely through neutral ice, and was completely by himself when he entered the zone.

Instead of curling up and waiting, he crossed the zone and bought time for his linemates to join him. John Tavares did the right thing by driving the middle of the ice — gluing a defender to him — and everyone else on the Flyers simply watched Marner handle the puck. Calle Jarnkrok snuck to the backdoor, where Marner found him with a beautiful through pass that wasn’t exactly a tap-in, but most players in the league are finishing off that feed.

3.    Eight minutes later, the Leafs doubled their lead. Truthfully, it came off of a nothing play.

As Zach Aston-Reese tried dumping the puck in, it hit Travis Sanheim and dropped to Tony DeAngelo with some time and space to lead a breakout, but he fanned on the puck. It was fully on the Flyers defenseman, who was benched for pretty well the rest of the game, playing just one shift in the second period while the game was close.

Credit to Pontus Holmberg on this goal. A sneaky strong player on his stick, the rookie’s game is all substance. He doesn’t try anything flashy; he simply plays hard, and this goal was a good example. It was a bad giveaway by DeAngelo, but the puck wasn’t on Holmberg’s tape, and there weren’t many options. A lot of players would try to make something out of nothing there, but Holmberg simply got the puck on net by shoveling it at Carter Hart with one hand on his stick.

ZAR crashed the net, and with a free shot all alone in the slot with Hart screened, he buried it, ending his 18-game goalless drought.

4.    Right after the Leafs were gifted a goal, they gifted one right back to the Flyers. Mitch Marner did well to track back and pick up the puck along the boards. He then passed it to the far-side defenseman, Rasmus Sandin, but instead of skating up the ice, Marner went behind the net and called for the puck back. After Sandin obliged, Marner threw a weak pass across the ice, where Travis Konecny picked it off, walked in all alone, and scored.

It’s not on Matt Murray. On the TV angles, it looked like Sandin could have simply banked it off the wall to John Tavares for a clean breakout with possession. Marner calling for it and dropping back instead of moving up the ice with a teammate already in stride was puzzling, and it kept the Flyers in the game for the time being.

5.   The Flyers came out hungry in the second period, working the walls against the Leafs and drawing a penalty. Travis Sanheim took a shot that went through Matt Murray but missed wide, Joel Farabee fired a one-timer in the high slot, and Wade Allison walked in all alone off a bad line change.

Murray stood tall, though, and was good in the game in general. The scoresheet makes it look like the game was a laugher — and it was for pretty well the entire third period — but Murray was solid in this game. He made a number of good saves, and while the Flyers don’t have much in the way of scoring talent, they put pucks on net all night and ended the game with 36 shots on goal.

Murray has been up and down of late, but this was an “up” game from him.

6.   The Leafs rewarded Murray at the other end with an insurance tally courtesy of Conor Timmins‘ first-ever NHL goal.

This time, Marner made a great read (in fairness, the 2-1 goal against aside, he almost always does; we can’t seriously be mad at the giveaway when it’s not a recurring problem). After gaining the zone, he stopped up and hit Timmins as the far-side trailer. Timmins did well to shift his body into a shooting posture, and then he ripped the puck through a few bodies into the top of the net.

The Leafs have tried Timmins on the point of the power play, and there has been some talk of his bomb of a shot in practice. I wouldn’t call this goal a pure bomb, but there’s something to be said for getting good shots through traffic and on target. Old friend JVR provided a great screen in front.

7.    Unfortunately for the Leafs, the recent trend of scoring a goal followed by a quick turnover for a high-end scoring chance against happened yet again. This time, it was Alex Kerfoot on the wall with a weak play into the middle. It was a pass that just missed Holmberg, turned over, and left Rasmus Sandin caught. Nicolas Deslauriers was all alone in front and scored with a surprisingly nice backhand finish in front.

Kerfoot isn’t a right winger, but he happened to end up on the right wall in this shift, and it did not go well. I really think the spot for him is exclusively on the left wing. 

8.   The Flyers then went to a power play with a chance to tie the game, but it was the Leafs’ special teams that went to work and flipped the script.

First, Mitch Marner put one on a tee for Timothy Liljegren, who stepped into an absolute bomb that rang off of the crossbar. I think this is an underrated weapon of Liljegren’s; I’ve said it a number of times over the past season and a half, but he has a heavy, powerful shot that he can beat goalies with cleanly when he steps into one.

There was nobody around Carter Hart; it was just Liljegren vs. Hart, and while the goalie will always say the shooter hit the post because he covered the net, Liljegren absolutely powered that puck by him.

On the ensuing faceoff, Calle Jarnkrok won it back to Liljegren, and the puck was knuckling. Liljegren wound up and appeared to shoot it as hard as he could, making sure to bear down on a wobbly puck. It went through Hart, who was again screened by his own teammate.

After scoring five goals in 61 games last season, Liljegren has now scored his third in game #30 of this season. He’s showing he can chip in fairly consistently with that shot of his.

9.    A couple of minutes later, the Leafs really put this game to bed. John Tavares gained the zone and tried to make a 180 pass to Mitch Marner, but it found a Flyer instead. Marner — who was clearly all over it this game — dislodged the puck back, Calle Jarnkrok joined him, and eventually, he sort of swatted the puck to Tavares, who was alone in the slot. 

Needless to say, you can’t give John Tavares time and space in the slot. He easily buried, ripping the puck short-side high. The captain now has 19 goals in 41 games, putting him on a 38-goal pace, which would tie his second-highest goal-scoring season if it held.

10.   It was a bit of a strange start to the third period for the Leafs. Sheldon Keefe started the second power-play unit — presumably because he didn’t like how the first power play of the game went — and it accomplished nothing.

After not scoring or really generating anything on the power play, Michael Bunting took a high-sticking penalty, but the Leafs’ penalty kill was really solid in this one against a team short on talent. With their earlier shorthanded goal, they actually outscored the Flyers’ power play despite four opportunities for Philadelphia.

Eventually, Auston Matthews made sure to completely ice the game with a power-play goal later in the third. The goal was really John Tavares‘ creation; he made the play with a good backside pass from beside the net, and all Matthews needed to do was shoot it into an empty net (I have no idea what Travis Sanheim was doing on this goal).

Bonus note: It was cool of Sheldon Keefe to give Wayne Simmonds one final shift in Philly against the Flyers with a minute left in the game. Simmonds didn’t really do anything in his 8:31 of time on ice to suggest he should stay in the lineup, and if this season is it for him, it’s a nice gesture to give him one more shift in the place where he really made his name during the prime of his career.

Heat Map: 5v5 Shot Attempts

Game Flow: 5v5 Shot Attempts