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Toronto Maple Leafs Have Awoken

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The Toronto Maple Leafs have awoken following a sluggish start to the 2021-22 season. Toronto has found a way to turn it around as they sit second in the Atlantic Division with a 7-4-1 record through 12 games. The Leafs began the season without Auston Matthews as he was still recovering from offseason wrist surgery and the new faces that needed to get acclimated with the team. Toronto lost four games in a row through the month of October and the lack of offensive production from the core group was a little concerning for those watching each and every night.

Since the beginning of November, with rock-solid Jack Campbell between the pipes and Matthews returning to the lineup, Sheldon Keefe and the Maple Leafs have gone streaking. Toronto has now won five games in a row with wins against the Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Las Vegas Golden Knights, Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Boston Bruins. The good vibes have been felt throughout the lineup as Mitch Marner, John Tavares, William Nylander, and Auston Matthews have all broken out of slumps and have led the team to five straight victories.

The big four lead the way

Tavares wears the captain’s “C” every night and he has proven his leadership qualities each and every game. He was the one who tied the game up late in the third period versus Tampa Bay and he nearly won the game on his own in overtime, he has the tendency to make a play when needed most. Tavares now has 6 goals and 6 assists for 12 points in 12 games this season, sparking the team who has followed suit and now owns the goal-scoring lead among the team since topping the previous leader Nylander.

Marner faced plenty of criticism to begin the season but as of late he has returned to the playmaker that we know and love to watch, Marner now sits with 3 goals and 9 assists for 12 points in 12 games played. He is the team’s assists leader picking up where he left off last season.

Matthews returned to the lineup and wasted no time getting his groove back. He has registered 5 goals and 3 assists for 8 points in 9 games played this year. He has helped get the Maple Leafs’ power play rolling including two power-play goals the other night versus Boston.

Nylander seemed to be the Maple Leafs’ only point producer to begin the 2021-22 campaign. He was the team’s goal-scoring leader until Toronto hosted Boston where Tavares leaped him for first. Nylander has 5 goals and 5 assists for 10 points in 12 games this season, he has spent time on a line with Tavares and has spent time with Matthews and he continues to produce.

No soup for you: The Leafs backbone

Campbell is the last line of defense and he has been everything Toronto hoped he would be leading up to the season. It is quite clear that he is up to the task of being a number one goaltender and battling with the league’s best night in and night out. He went toe to toe with Lightning and Vasilevski in a 2-1 overtime Leafs win a few nights ago.

Campbell has been a wall in goal as he has a 6-2-0-1 record, with a 1.88 goals-against-average and impressive .936 save percentage, add on one shutout already this season, and it is clear that Toronto has all the confidence with “Soup” manning the crease. There are still 70 games to go but early indications show that Campbell is up to the task.

New faces making their way

The Maple Leafs have welcomed a few new faces to the team and they have all made impacts this season. Most notably would be Michael Bunting, the Scarborough, Ontario native who has found himself on the wing of the first line this season. Bunting has posted 3 goals and 3 assists for 6 points this season, he has fit in nicely in his new role with his hometown team.

Nick Ritchie has struggled to find his way with the Leafs this season, he began the season in the top 6 forwards but quickly found himself in the bottom six where he has played regularly. Ritchie has one assist and he is a -4 through 12 games this season, he has been unable to find the back of the net so far this season despite getting a shot in the top six to start the year.

Ondrej Kase has been effective on the third and fourth lines, he has 1 goal and 1 assist through 12 games and has fit in nicely in a responsible shutdown line role. David Kampf has already tied his scoring production from last season with Chicago, it just so happened his 1 goal this year was scored against his former team in a Leafs’ loss to the Blackhawks. Kampf has found his way on the third line being used in a shutdown role along with Ondrej Kase.

Leafs injury update, Mrazek to injured list

The Toronto Maple Leafs will have some decisions to make as goaltender Petr Mrazek returns to the injured list with a groin injury. The Leafs’ netminder was already sidelined at the beginning of the season with a groin injury and it seems he has aggravated the injury again.

The netminder will be out for 4-weeks due to the groin injury and Toronto has called up Joseph Woll to backup Jack Campbell. Could this mean the end for Michael Hutchinson who has had his fair share of chances to prove he can be the third-string netminder for Toronto? Joseph Woll has not appeared in a regular-season NHL game, the 23-year old the Leafs’ backup goaltender for the 5-2 win against Boston. The Maple Leafs have a busy month of November and with Mrazek out it’s likely, we will see Woll in net in the near future.

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