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Maple Leafs’ Depth Scoring Helps Beat the Oilers 6-3


The Toronto Maple Leafs have played their last game against a Western Conference team this season, and it’s only fitting that it be against the Edmonton Oilers. In a marquee matchup, our attention turns to the star power of both teams, specifically Connor McDavid vs. Auston Matthews. This game did not disappoint; it was fast-paced, physical, and had a ton of goals, which is a hockey fan’s dream.

The Oilers came out fast after the puck dropped, but the Maple Leafs opened the scoring with a goal by Bobby McMann. After that, the on-slot started, and Toronto scored four more goals courtesy of William Nylander and Pontus Holmberg to give their club a 5-0 lead. Early in the third, Zach Hyman continued his dominant season and got his team on the board with his 49th of the year. The Oilers dominated most of the third period and scored two more goals to cut the lead to two.

Related: 3 Underappreciated Toronto Maple Leafs in 2023-24

Unfortunately, Ilya Samsonov slid across his crease on their last goal and couldn’t get up on his own. He had to leave the game, moving very gingerly, and couldn’t put full weight on his left leg. Martin Jones was tasked with saving the game, now only leading 5-3. With less than five minutes left in the third, Edmonton pulled their goalie and had many chances but couldn’t get past Jones, and Matthews put the cherry on top with the empty net goal. Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said that Samsonov would be okay after that game, which is a relief for everyone involved.

Depth Scoring, Finally

In a time when the team needs it most, depth scoring has arrived, and it looks like it is going to stay. The Maple Leafs are scraping the bottom of the barrier with Mitch Marner, Calle Jarnkrok, and Tyler Bertuzzi dealing with injuries or illnesses. Last night against the Oilers, the Maple Leafs had to dress all the available forwards, which meant the return of Ryan Reaves, who had been dealing with an injury after the fight with Nick Deslauriers. With the playoffs a little over three weeks away, the team wants to ensure no one else gets injured, and the players who are missing games can recover and rejoin the group when they are healthy. But this is something that the team has lacked, especially down the stretch and into the playoffs, so if the depth players can keep scoring, it only helps the Maple Leafs chances at success in the postseason. 

Pontus Holmberg Toronto Maple Leafs
Pontus Holmberg, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The team needed all the help they could get in the forward department against the Oilers, and Keefe recognized Holmberg playing well and put him with Matthews and Max Domi on the top line, and he didn’t waste time. He got his first and second of the night, and throughout the game, he was rewarded with more shifts on the top line. As mentioned earlier, McMann was the other player who had a great game last night. This has become a statement made every time the Maple Leafs play; he has transformed his game into an everyday NHL’er and, as a result, got rewarded with his new contract extension, 2 year, $2.7 million with an average annual value of $1.35 million.

Related: Maple Leafs’ Depth on Defence Creates Questions for T.J. Brodie

McMann’s scoring last night must have been surreal, as he grew up only two hours away from Edmonton and cheered for them as a kid. The hope is that the Maple Leafs’ bottom six will continue to be given the chance to play more minutes in these games down the stretch and help them grow their confidence, which hopefully will have a lasting effect when the playoffs start. 

Treliving’s Team Toughness

If I were to tell you last season that the Maple Leafs would be physical and willing to fight every game, would you believe me? No, you wouldn’t; for former GM Kyle Dubas, it was more about finesse than team toughness. However, those days are gone, and now, under Brad Treliving, it is all about team toughness. To start his time in Toronto, he signed Bertuzzi, Domi, and Reaves to provide some “snot,” and it has. 

Joel Edmundson Toronto Maple Leafs
Joel Edmundson, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Domi fought Mattias Janmark last night to give him a new career high with five fights in a season. At the deadline, Treliving added Joel Edmundson and Ilya Lyubushkin to their blue line to help them be more physical and defend their net. While Lyubushkin was out last night with an injury, Edmundson was very good against the Oilers’ top players, including Leon Draisaitl, which is what you want to see if you are a Maple Leafs fan. Watching the team play like this makes it even more exciting when considering the greatest time of the year: the NHL playoffs!

Overall, the Maple Leafs battled hard and took an early lead over the Oilers. Unfortunately, in the third, they let the Oilers back into the game, but unlike last Saturday, they could find a way to hang on to the lead and get two points.

The Maple Leafs are next in action on Sunday, March 24, against the Carolina Hurricanes at 6:00 p.m. They will look for redemption after blowing a two-goal lead and losing in a shootout the last time they played each other, on March 16.

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