TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 23: William Nylander #29 of the Toronto Maple Leafs stands with teammates Alexey Marchenko #3 and Connor Brown #12 during warm up before playing the New York Rangers at the Air Canada Centre on February 23, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Leafs look for answers after tough Cali road trip, March 2017 Leafs prospect rankings, Andreas Johnsson catching fire with the Marlies, and more in the links.

Leafs Links

Game #64 Review: Anaheim Ducks 5 vs. Toronto Maple Leafs 2 (MLHS)
The Leafs have now given up 35+ shots in seven of their last nine and have gone 2-4-3 over that stretch. Their two wins have come over two non-playoff teams in Winnipeg and Carolina, while six of the seven losses have come against playoff teams (Rangers, Sharks, Ducks, Canadiens, Blue Jackets, Senators). They’ve given up 29 goals over those nine games (3.2/game), with 23 goals against over the six games against playoff teams (3.8/game). The good news? The Leafs’ next five games are against non-playoff opponents.

Game #58 Review: Toronto Marlies 3 vs. St. John’s IceCaps 1 (MLHS)
With the St. John’s IceCaps in town for a doubleheader, the Toronto Marlies needed a bounce back performance coming off of consecutive defeats to Bridgeport and Hershey. The IceCaps were riding a good run of recent form and also sport the best road record in the North Division. This Saturday night tilt was played at a frantic pace befitting the importance of the two points on offer. On ‘Superhero Day’ at Ricoh Coliseum, Antoine Bibeau was Toronto’s man of steel between the pipes with a much-needed bounce back performance after some shaky showings of late.

Three takeaways from the Leafs’ disastrous California road trip (The Athletic)
Generally speaking, the Leafs games post-all-star have been more high event ones than before. They’re generating more shots and chances per minute, but they’re also giving up more. Percentage-wise, it’s basically a wash. But the trading chances routine is very problematic when you don’t have A-level goaltending. While it wasn’t realistic to expect Andersen to be a .925+ guy for 65 games, his big run was a huge part of their record during that streak.

Maple Leafs ‘caught with pants down’ against Ducks (Sportsnet)
Not only did Toronto manage but a single point during the treacherous California road trip, but the Leafs went 0-for-6 against San Jose, L.A. and Anaheim this season—a smart reality check of how far this team needs to grow. Their record against Western Conference opponents tumbled to 9-10-7, and physically the Leafs get worked against teams of this mould.

Leafs need a ‘run’ after lost California trek (Toronto Sun)
What helped kill the Leafs’ chances in California, where they went 0-2-1, was the overall inconsistent play in each game. Toronto didn’t play a full 60 minutes in any of the games, and the question arises now whether the youthful group is capable of putting together enough start-to-finish efforts in order to win more than lose in the final month. We wonder whether it might not matter, given that this is a club that continues to have problems behind its own blue line. With no changes made to the defence corps at the trade deadline, Babcock will have to hope there’s a corner that can be turned, starting immediately.

Leafs Prospect Rankings – March 2017 (Future of the Six)
Carl Grundstrom is the type of guy that Mike Babcock will love. He’s a hard-nosed, in-your-face player who can also chip in offensively. I was shocked when he fell to 57th overall in the 2016 Draft as I had him pegged as an early 2nd round pick who could possibly sneak into the late 1st round. It’s not often that you can draft a guy who is a safe bet to become an NHLer in the late 2nd. He has had a very solid year playing professionally in the SHL, putting up 12 goals and 6 assists in 42 games. He leads all U20 players in the SHL in goals. Down the road, I could see him replacing Zach Hyman on Auston Matthews left side.

Shootout woes doom Leafs’ playoff hopes (Toronto Sun)
The Leafs have scored on a dreadful 17.8% of shootout attempts while leaving eight points on the table in penalty-shot defeats. They have one shootout win, eight losses. Most NHL teams hover around the 50% mark for shootout wins. At that mark, the Leafs would be comfortably in the playoffs. Without them, their playoffs, in essence, began yesterday. Every game, every shot matters now. It’s not just shooting. Frederik Andersen is near the bottom of the league in shootout performance, stopping just 52% of shots in extra time.

Leafs’ Zach Hyman understands the highs and lows of goal scoring (Toronto Star)
When Zach Hyman scored for the Maple Leafs on Friday in Anaheim, the rookie winger put an end to a 12-game goal-less streak. It had been even longer, most of three months, since he’d scored at even strength. So the goal couldn’t have come soon enough for Leaf fans — and not only because the excruciating coach’s challenge that accompanied it seemed nearly as interminable as Hyman’s offensive drought.

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