Maple Leafs salvage just a point as reliance on Frederik Andersen continues

We’ll share points after every game throughout the Toronto Maple Leafs season.

All things considered, this was probably a fair and just result.

After the Toronto Maple Leafs needed 11 rounds to cement themselves as winners last Saturday, the Philadelphia Flyers won the shootout rematch a week later at Scotiabank Arena. “Clap bomb” Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier scored in the skills comp, spoiling a brilliant effort from Leafs netminder Frederik Andersen. And it was Travis Dermott and William Nylander with the goals for Toronto, which ran its points streak to five games with the bonus-time defeat.

The Maple Leafs will be in Chicago tomorrow night for their annual Sunday visit.

Until then, three points:

First Point: It seems worth asking

After the Maple Leafs banked seven of a possible eight points over the last week (plus a few hours, here) despite leading for 16 minutes and 31 seconds total across 250-plus minutes contested over four games, what if Frederik Andersen was only just, good?

Would they have banked three points? Maybe four?

Looking back, Toronto needed Andersen to stare down 10 shootout attempts last weekend in Philadelphia to secure the two points, make numerous game-saving stops last time out versus the Vegas Golden Knights, and make two ridiculous showtime saves literally moments before the Maple Leafs equalized versus Philly again tonight.

So yeah, probably three.

What’s done is done, obviously, but without Andersen being anything less than exceptional in the four games played in November to this point, the Leafs would be sandwiched in the middle of the Eastern Conference wild card chase, not seated second in the Atlantic Division as they are now.

Though I guess the opposite would apply had Andersen avoided another regrettable October.


Second Point: Improvisation 101

Though the whole thing seemed media-manifested, Auston Matthews did indeed finally offer an attempt at the Andrei Svechnikov lacrosse-style goal — and at a critical moment in the hockey game, no less.

It would have been impressive, of course, had he successfully loaded the puck onto his blade and artfully tucked it inside the post as Svechnikov did a few games back, but the end result from a failed effort was nearly just as special.

Recognizing immediately that it wasn’t meant to be this time and seamlessly switching course to find the stick of Nylander for the equalizer was just another example of Matthews’ incredible offensive talent.

Third Point: About Marner

While on the verge of having the full complement of forwards back, finally, the Leafs may have suffered their most critical injury yet.

Mitch Marner will not be available Sunday, but a more detailed diagnosis was not offered after the dynamic winger left the game with an ankle injury suffered on an awkward fall soon after the puck was dropped to begin the second period.

Marner did try to test it out, which may rule out the most serious of potential injuries, but there is definite concern that he could miss some significant time.

How the Maple Leafs will answer to the loss of Marner is yet to be determined, but for the meantime Kasperi Kapanen was again promoted (and this time left on his preferred right side) to the John Tavares line in his absence.

Marner’s injury also likely means that Jason Spezza will be re-inserted into the lineup, and the decision on which forward will be sacrificed with the long-awaited return of Zach Hyman will be delayed even longer.

While dragging along that discussion isn’t good for anyone, the loss of Marner is particularly worrisome for Tavares, who just hasn’t been himself to start the season.

It seems critical that the Maple Leafs receive some contributions from the Tavares line at 5-on-5, or risk continuing to chase games as they have over the last four.

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