Maple Leafs’ News & Rumors: Matthews, Boyd, Liljegren & Galchenyuk
In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs’ News & Rumors, I’ll share thoughts about Auston Matthews’ lack of scoring recently. I’ll look at some player moves back and forth on the waiver wire and the team’s taxi squad.
I’ll also make a case that young defenseman Timothy Liljegren should get some game action with the big club and comment about Alex Galchenyuk’s first two games with the team. Finally, I’ll introduce and share a link to the Maple Leafs’ Lounge most recent YouTube podcast.
Item One: Should Fans Be Worried About Auston Matthews Injury?
When I watch Auston Matthews play on the ice, he seems on top of his game. He also seems to be playing well; but, is it possible his injury still hampers him more than we might know? Or, has his scoring has just come back to earth?
Matthews started the season with 18 goals in his first 18 games, but he only has scored three goals in his last 11 games. Over an 82-game regular season, three goals in 11 games is an average of more than 20 a season. Most players would think they’d had a good season if they scored over 20 goals. We’ve just come to expect more from the Maple Leafs’ superstar. (from “Matthews looks to re-gain scoring touch,” Lance Hornby, Toronto Sun, 21/03/21).
In fact, given his fast start and his improved conditioning on the season, how many of us thought he might actually be able to hit 50 goals in this shortened 56-game season? I did: I thought he at least had a chance.
Obviously, he’s been slowed by the wrist injury that kept him out of a number of games. He’s still tied for the NHL lead in goals scored with his buddy Connor McDavid (they worked out together in Arizona this offseason under the direction of Shane Doan) with 21 goals. And, given McDavid’s hot scoring lately, there’s a good chance that Matthews will no longer be tops on the leader board by the time the Maple Leafs play the Ottawa Senators on Thursday. The Oilers play the Canadiens in Montreal tonight.
Maple Leafs fans should hope that Matthews’ injury has time to heal more over the next few days.
Item Two: Maple Leafs Place Travis Boyd on Waivers
On Sunday, Travis Boyd was put on waivers by the Maple Leafs. Boyd had started well on the Maple Leafs fourth line and was even playing on the power play, but his scoring had tailed off recently. Still, I believe the move had less to do with the organization not wanting to keep Boyd around than it does offering the team flexibility.
I had to go back and rewrite this post. When I first wrote it, I wasn’t sure if any team might pick Boyd up, but I believed some NHL general managers would think about it. According to his line-mate Jason Spezza, Boyd is a strong player. Over the season, he has three goals and eight points in 20 games playing limited minutes.
Related: What Ever Happened To Rob Schremp?
I was right. As it turned out, Boyd did not clear waivers; instead, the Vancouver Canucks picked him up like they also picked up Jimmy Vesey last week. Good luck to Boyd with his new team.
Item Three: Timothy Liljegren Rejoins the Maple Leafs’ Active Roster
Although I’m a Travis Dermott fan, I’d love to see Timothy Liljegren get a chance to play with Zach Bogosian on the team’s third-pairing. Perhaps he’ll have that chance, although player movements happen so quickly these days that it might just be a move on paper. On Sunday, Liljegren was promoted to the team’s active roster. But, how long will he stay there?
Liljegren has shuffled between levels several times this month but hasn’t yet made his season debut with the Maple Leafs. I think he’s ready – OK, I’m anxious – to see him in action with the big club. This season with the Marlies, his game and his confidence have both improved. He’s stronger at opening the passing and shooting lanes, and he’s good at moving the puck up ice. I’m anxious to see if he’s more confident and ready for the NHL.
Because Liljegren is playing well with the Marlies this season, I’d love to see the organization give him another chance to show what he can do. Granted he looked lost in 11 games with the Maple Leafs last season, but I hope things have improved.
Item Four: Alex Galchenyuk Moved Back to the Taxi Squad
Although I don’t think this is a permanent move, Alex Galchenyuk was reassigned to the taxi squad yesterday. I thought Galchenyuk looked good on Saturday against the Calgary Flames and scored his first point (an assist) in his first two Maple Leafs’ games.
I trust the experiment of putting Galchenyuk in the top six will last a few more games, and I look forward to seeing the 27-year-old forward once again on the second line in Thursday’s game against the Senators. I wonder if the fact that Ottawa dumped him might be extra motivating for Galchenyuk.
What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?
One of the big questions facing the Maple Leafs is in goal. It seems as if Jack Campbell will be the starting goalie until at least Frederik Andersen is healed from his injury. Campbell is a perfect 4-0 on the season, but can he continue that stellar body of work as the designated starter.
In last night’s Maple Leafs’ Lounge, The Hockey Writers’ Maple Leafs writing crew members Kevin Armstrong, Peter Baracchini, Alex Hobson & Jim ‘The Old Prof’ Parsons talked about the Maple Leafs’ goalie situation, the Alex Galchecyuk effect, line combinations, and more. If you’re interested, I encourage you to check the podcast out above.
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