Leafs winger Matthew Knies
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Two Leafs comment on where this recent surge of success is coming from amid winning streak

Published February 20, 2024 at 10:16

When the Leafs traveled to Ottawa on February 10th for their last meeting of the season with the Senators, I don't think anyone could have prepared themselves for how that one would end. The Sens skated away with a 5-3 victory to win the season series, but it was the actions of Morgan Rielly that really took centre stage in the loss to Ottawa.

Towards the end of the 3rd period, Sens forward Ridly Greig came barreling down with the puck to put the game away with an empty-net goal. However, instead of having some respect for his opponent and sliding the puck into the empty cage as you'd normally see, Greig wound up and took a full-blown slap shot from the top of the crease, burying the puck in the empty net with authority.

The play drew the ire of the Leafs, and Morgan Rielly specifically, as Rielly pursued the young agitator and delivered a stiff cross-check directed at Greig's shoulder that rode up and cracked him in the head and face, earning Rielly a 5-game suspension.

It would have been easy for the team to buckle and drop a few games after losing Rielly for an extended period of time, but that's not what happened. Instead, the guys rallied around Rielly, and even with a short bench on a few occasions, the team has gone 4-0-0 since Rielly's suspension began. Both William Nylander and Matthew Knies credit Rielly standing up for their team as the reason that they're so fired up to win for him right now.

"I mean, every game is a battle. We've got to battle for a playoff spot and keep fighting. We've answered the bell, and I think Mo kinda lit the fire in the team. Yeah, we're battling for Mo." - Nylander crediting Morgan Rielly for Leafs' recent surge

"He kinda defended the respect of our team, and I think we're playing really hard now. He's a valuable piece to us. And we're excited that he's gonna come back here soon, but I think we're playing really good hockey — and I think it's given us a jump." - Knies believes that Rielly defending the team's honour woke a lot of guys up

This whole ordeal just goes to show you that when a team plays for one another, they can experience some tremendous success. Hopefully the Leafs are taking note of this right now and can hang onto some of that motivation and fire and use it come playoff time. If everyone is playing for the guy next to them on the bench or the guys sitting across from them in the locker room, there's nothing that this team can't accomplish.

February 20   |   586 answers
Two Leafs comment on where this recent surge of success is coming from amid winning streak

With an upgrade on defense and nowhere else, do you think this Leafs team can win in the playoffs?

Yes29550.3 %
No, they need another piece as well18932.3 %
No, they need at least 2 D and 1 forward10217.4 %
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