Thoughts after Leafs game 36 of 56:

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It’s hard to always find a game to game narrative halfway through a condensed season where you play the same 5 teams over and over again.

Sometimes it’s just the better team that wins, the one with the hotter goalie, the one with better puck luck or the more rested team. Sometimes it’s a combination of all of the above.

That being said the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Winnipeg Jets in a convincing 3-1 win last night. Here are my post game thoughts:

•Jack Campbell made 26/27 saves and posted a .963 save percentage. He looked less busy in net tonight than he has been in previous games and was doing an excellent job of tracking the puck. 

In my opinion he has solidified the starting goaltending role until further notice. It’s hard not to cheer for a guy like Jack when he gives such humbling post game interviews like this.

•For a generation of fans Auston Matthews is the greatest player they have ever seen in a Leafs jersey. He’s well on his way to becoming the best Toronto Maple Leaf of all time.

Matthews grabbed a rebound in close and quickly flipped it top shelf over Hellebuyck’s shoulder for an early 1-0 lead. Minutes later after a nifty move by Marner, Matthews put a shot on net, Hyman found the rebound and quickly made it 2-0.

On a night where Matthews was all over the puck, this was the sequence that impressed me the most:

 Matthews has shown a more physical, not-willing-to-back-down style of play this year that has been a treat to watch.

•Don’t get me wrong I love Wayne Simmonds and Joe Thornton. Sometimes I wish I could turn my armchair GM brain off and just enjoy having both these players on my favourite team. Alas it’s not that simple. 

Simmonds will always be a presence on the ice, teams will have to take note when he’s playing. However since coming back from injury he’s looked a step behind and a little out of sync with the team.

Thornton on the other hand is just looking like a 41 year old skating up the ice and then back down and then back up again and off for a line change. I just feel he’ll bring something intangible come playoff time though. 

Quick notes:

•Alex Galchenyuk looks like he has found a home on the 2nd line. Clearly just needed some team security and patience to show a version of himself we haven’t seen in a couple seasons.

•As each game passes I’m convinced we’re seeing the end of Alex Kerfoot’s time as a Maple Leaf. He’s a cap casualty and is replaceable at this point.

•The longer management waits to make a trade, the less certain I am of Freddy’s health. I also think we’ll see some cap wizardry from Pridham and company.

Author: Josh BeLeaf