It seems silly at this point how badly Tyler Toffoli has owned the Vancouver Canucks. After a brief stint with them last year, he joined the Montreal Canadiens in the offseason, and has absolutely torched his temporary home squad over five games.
Last night was yet another stellar performance, with an assist, and two goals to at least temporarily put himself back in the NHL scoring lead.
Most of his goals this season have been a direct result of exemplary positioning, being in the right place at the right time more often than not. His first goal of the night being a great example as he was in the slot ready to get a tip on a Joel Edmundson point shot.
His second goal, however, was an individual effort the likes of which you do not see every night.
This is just absurd. He takes a good chip pass from Jesperi Kotkaniemi, but has no red sweaters anywhere near him to help on the rush. He goes between his own legs to make a fool of Jordie Benn, then fires a lethal backhander past Thatcher Demko, who was playing very well for his team. It’s a beautiful goal, and showcases Toffoli’s individual skill rather than his positioning that has been the foundation of his success this year.
He has emerged as the primary scoring threat on a third line that has given fits to the opposition this year. With Montreal legitimately rolling their four lines in terms of ice time, it might not even be fair to really call them the third line. And at only $4.25 million against the cap, Toffoli is giving them the production of a first-liner with the salary of a third-liner, and minutes similar to any other player on the roster. In a word; value.
It might be odd considering that he scored two goals, but my personal favourite play of his was when he elected not to shoot at an empty net. He had a chance at a hat trick, but he passed on that long shot to give the puck to Jeff Petry. It’s a small, selfless play, but it speaks volumes of his dedication to helping this team win.
If he shoots that puck and scores, it’s another hat trick on his record and he looks great. If he misses, it’s an icing and Vancouver gets an offensive zone faceoff with a chance to tie the game. He made the smart play instead of the self-serving one, and for that I must say I’m incredibly impressed.
After the game, he said “If we had a two-goal lead, I might have been a little selfish.” But they didn’t, and the fact that he cares more about winning than his own accolades is why he will keep making Marc Bergevin look incredibly smart for bringing him into the fold.