June 14, 2024

Matthews scored his NHL-leading 56th and 57th goals of the season and matched his career high with five points, leading the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 7-3 rout of the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night despite Ovechkin moving closer to Wayne Gretzky. Meanwhile, Matthews’ pursuit of the first 70-goal in more than three decades is back on track.

“When the world’s best are going at it like that, it’s always fun to watch,” Leafs forward Bobby McMann said. “Nice that we came out on the right side of it, but yeah it’s cool to see.”

Ovechkin scored goals 844 and 845 of his career to move 50 back of breaking Gretzky’s record that long seemed unapproachable. He’s now at 23 this season after scoring 15 goals since Jan. 22 to make up for just eight in h

e’re all kind of running out of words to describe it,” Matthews said. “He’s the greatest goal-scorer of all-time, so it’s always fun to play against him still and still watch him get it done and the excitement and passion he gets when he scores goals. Obviously, we’d like to see him not score against us, but when you’re that good, you’re bound to get opportunities and he makes good on them most of the time.”

e’re all kind of running out of words to describe it,” Matthews said. “He’s the greatest goal-scorer of all-time, so it’s always fun to play against him still and still watch him get it done and the excitement and passion he gets when he scores goals. Obviously, we’d like to see him not score against us, but when you’re that good, you’re bound to get opportunities and he makes good on them mos

New Maple Leaf Tyler Bertuzzi, right, celebrates with star centre Auston Matthews after scoring against the Detroit Red Wings during a preseason game in Toronto earlier this month. The Leafs open the team’s regular season schedule against the Montreal Canadiens Wednesday night. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

Hockey returns to the newly renovated halls of Scotiabank Arena Wednesday night, as the Toronto Maple Leafs officially kick off the team’s 2023-24 NHL season against the Montreal Canadiens.

After a tumultuous off-season that saw former general manager Kyle Dubas leave and take a new job in Pittsburgh, all eyes will be on new GM Brad Treliving to see if he’s able to help push a wildly talented — but maddeningly underachieving — team over the hump.

Here are five storylines to look for when watching the Leafs this season.

Last off-season brought a fair bit of roster overhaul, though the core of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, John Tavares and Morgan Rielly wasn’t touched, despite cries from some corners of the fanbase to make significant changes.

Still, lots of familiar faces (like Justin Holl, Alex Kerfoot and Pierre Engvall) are gone, with Treliving bringing in new players like Tyler Bertuzzi, Max Domi, Ryan Reaves and John Klingberg in their

Scotiabank Arena is undergoing a $350 million makeover. The ongoing project ranges from new or upgraded premium areas to revamped, enlarged concourses. Dale Manucdoc got a sneak peak of the first phase of renovations.

The new GM has publicly stated he was looking to bring “a little more snot” to the team, and seemingly did so. Domi comes with a family history stretching back decades as his dad is beloved Leafs enforcer Tie — and while he’s not as known for fighting like his father was, he’s definitely more prone to mucking it up in the corners than some of the team’s core.

Bertuzzi has a similar pedigree, as he’s the nephew of NHL enforcer Todd Bertuzzi and also known for not shying away from physical play — albeit also not at the level of his uncle.

Reaves arrives as a bit of a tank on skates, and one of the league’s last true enforcers. However, questions remain about his ability to keep up with play at this point in his career.

Though the Leafs have had no shortage of regular season success in recent years, the team has also had the misfortune of running the gauntlet in what is arguably the best division in the league.

But the Atlantic crown feels a little more up in the air this time around, with some teams poised to take a step back.

The Boston Bruins ran away with the division and the President’s Trophy last season before flaming out in spectacular fashion in the playoffs, and now find themselves severely depleted at centre ice with the dual retirements of mainstays David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron. The Bruins still have great goaltending and defending to fall back on, but dominance no longer feels like a certainty

Similarly, questions linger around the Tampa Bay Lightning, the team the Leafs finally eliminated from the playoffs last season. They’ve been forced to jettison high-end talent in recent years thanks to the league’s salary cap, and will be without star goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy for several weeks due to back surgery.

Other teams in the division could make positive strides (like Buffalo, Ottawa and Detroit) and first place is by no means a lock for the Leafs — but it feels a little more possible than in past s

Considering Matthews scored over a point per game last season, it seems kind of ludicrous to paint it as a down year for the star centre — yet that’s the kind of absurd standard he has

Injuries hampered Matthews at times last season, leaving him to score 40 goals and 85 points in 74 games. Those would be great numbers for much of the league, but a healthy Matthews should surpass both, especially if his shooting percentage rebounds from last year’s career low

Toronto’s defence has long been seen as its Achilles heel, though in recent years it has improved handily, if not enough to totally sidestep that narrative.

Still, this year’s squad feels a little shakier on the back end.

Morgan Rielly had a tremendous playoffs, but will likely never be known for his stalwart defensive play. His partner T.J. Brodie is getting older, and looked like he had a harder time with the pace of play in last year’s play

Alexandra Park is home to a new basketball court thanks to Toronto Maple Leafs’ John Tavares and Toronto Raptors’ Pascal Siakam. The two sports stars made donations through their charitable organizations to help pay for the court. CBC’s Greg Ross has reactions from the athletes — and the community.

At 40, Mark Giordano is the league’s oldest player — and though he looked phenomenal at times last season, he seemed totally out of gas by the time the playoffs rolled around.

Neither Jake McCabe nor Timothy Liljegren have established themselves as true top four options, and Klingberg —Treliving’s big free agent signing — has been outright bad in his own zone for a couple of seasons now.

If Klingberg bounces back, others like Rielly continue to play at a high level, and some of the less-established options take a step, the Leafs could be fine. But it feels like the team could run into real trouble if any of the top six struggle, or injuries hit

The Leafs are rolling into this season with a largely untested goaltending tandem, though one that shows a lot of promise.

Ilya Samsonov ended last season with a .919 save percentage, good for a tie for sixth in the league. Backup Joseph Woll fared even better in far fewer games, posting a .932 save percentage.

Matthew Knies skates on the ice.
Rookie Matthew Knies, pictured, could also play a big part for the team this year, alongside training camp standout and fellow rookie Fraser Minten. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

At face value those numbers are great, but neither goalie has proven they can play consistently at that level just yet. Samsonov toiled in semi-mediocrity for years with the Capitals before breaking out last year, and Woll has battled injuries before showing signs he was ready for NHL games over the last couple of seasons.

If both players are able to perform at that level long term without injury, the Leafs could have a solid goaltending tandem — but if one or both falters or injury hits, things could get if

nd I thought everyone did a great job of that from the first shift,” said Max Domi, who had four assists. “Had everyone going, and we’re a tough team to beat when we play like that.”

As part of a high-event, quick scoring hockey game that was not friendly to the goaltenders, Joseph Woll made 18 saves in net for the Leafs and Charlie Lindgren made 22 for the Capitals, who failed to move back into a playoff position with their winning streak ending at three. They sit one point back of Detroit for the second and final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

“Nobody said it’s going to be easy,” Ovechkin said.

The Caps lost while playing without injured winger T.J. Oshie and forward Leafs forward Bobby McMann sa Reaves was also out after being poked in the right eye during a fight Tuesday night in Philadelphia, while veteran defenseman T.J. Brodie was a healthy scratch.

WASHINGTON(AP) — Auston Matthews still gets excited about facing Alex Ovechkin, one of his favorite players growing up. And even with Ovechkin authoring a vintage performance, Matthews found a way to steal the spotlight.

Matthews scored his NHL-leading 56th and 57th goals of the season and matched his career high with five points, leading the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 7-3 rout of the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night despite Ovechkin moving closer to Wayne Gretzky. Meanwhile, Matthews’ pursuit of the first 70-goal in more than three decades is back on track.

“When the world’s best are going at it like that, it’s always fun to watch,” Leafs forward Bobby McMann said. “Nice that we came out on the right side of it, but yeah it’s cool to see.”

Ovechkin scored goals 844 and 845 of his career to move 50 back of breaking Gretzky’s record that long seemed unapproachable. He’s now at 23 this season after scoring 15 goals since Jan. 22 to make up for just eight in his first 43 games.

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