13 Musings: Maple Leafs hope their November will be better than their October – Toronto Star

So who had the Leafs at 4-4-1 — behind Detroit and Buffalo – after the first month of the NHL season?

Safe to say the Leafs didn’t see it coming, either.

Two wins in a row — an overtime win over the Blackhawks in Chicago and a win at home over the Red Wings – stopped the bleeding. But now some they’re in for some heavy lifting, essentially proving to themselves they’re as good on the ice as they are on paper.

President Brendan Shanahan spoke of developing a killer instinct. There is no evidence it has been developed, or that it is developing. It’s early, yeah.

Eight of their next 10 games are at home. Not a single patsy among them. As Kyle Dubas put it: “We have to go through this and we have to endure it. We’ve generally always started well (in regular seasons). This isn’t the start that we envisioned having. My hope is that we’re able to use this to go through and endure some difficulty and some question marks and some criticism and learn how to deal with that well and help propel us forward.”

To the 13 Musings. As always, if you have a question, email me at askkevinmcgran@gmail.com and I’ll answer in the next Mailbag.

1. My favourite line from Dubas when speaking last week about extending Morgan Rielly came when he was asked about other pending free agents, including Jason Spezza: “The negotiations with Jason have always been quite easy.”

2. I can see Spezza with the team, in a development role, with the team whenever he retires. He’s basically a playing-coach now.

3. No Maple Leaf is in the top 50 in NHL scoring. John Tavares, with seven points, is tied at 57th with a bunch of players, including Zach Hyman.

3. Frederik Andersen is four wins away from tying Jack Campbell’s NHL record of 11 consecutive wins to start a season.

4. Other ex-Leaf goalies having great Octobers: James Reimer (2-1-0, 1.13, .964) in San Jose; and Jonathan Bernier (3-0-0, 2.32, .923) in New Jersey.

5. Be curious to see if Donald Fehr survives the day as head of the NHL Players’ Executive. Players are upset at how the NHLPA dropped the ball in protecting Kyle Beach. That is the one organization players should be able to rely on, to have his interests first.

6. Fun story that Steve Yzerman drove Joe Veleno from Detroit to Toronto for Saturday’s game. The Red Wings called up Veleno from the AHL, and it was simply easier for him to catch a lift with the boss than fly.

8. The Maple Leafs have lost five players on waivers since the start of last season. In order, Aaron Dell, Jimmy Vesey, Travis Boyd, Adam Brooks and Michael Amadio. No team has lost that many in the same time frame. Amadio joins their Tuesday opponent, the Vegas Golden Knights. Amadio simply stayed in Toronto and waited for Vegas to come to him.

9. The Winnipeg Jets have lost three players, and claimed two others, making them among the biggest users of the waiver wire. The Buffalo Sabres have claimed three, and lost one.

10. A trade over the weekend in Finland’s top league has an effect on Leafs prospects. Defenceman Axel Rindell, a six-round pick in 2020, was traded from Jukurit to Karpat where he’s now on the same blue line as Topi Niemela, a third-round pick from the same draft.

11. Niemela and centre Roni Hirvonen remain eligible for Finland’s World Junior team. Forward Dmitry Ovchinnikov and goalie Vyacheslav Peksa may get called on by Mother Russia.

12. Matthew Knies – the Leafs third-round pick in 2021 – has a shot at being on Team USA’s roster. He was at their summer camp, and has three goals in eight games at the University of Minnesota.

13. The Leafs have other prospects still under-20, including American Ty Voit and Joe Miller. All have been on Team USA’s radar before. Neither of the Leafs teenaged Canadian prospects (defenceman William Villeneuve and forward Ryan Tverberg) were at Team Canada’s summer camp.