After all the silliness that occurred in Game 2 came the Toronto Maple Leafs at home and focused on what played most role in Game 3 – playing hockey.
The leaves focused on playing the whistle. There were few scrums in this game and some extra shenanigans in general. It plays for Leaf's advantage.
Home ice cream benefits and its importance are often debated, but so far we have seen noticeable differences in games, especially physicality. In Game 2, Bruins came out and beat everything that moved. In Game 3 they came out and did not land a hit of importance. The leaf came out and was the aggressor. They entered the ex-ante control, had some strong energy changes – one in particular from the fourth line – and the audience went early.
– Maple Leafs Hotstove (@LeafsNews) April 15, 2019
But after the Bruins had confused the storm, they came on strong in the second half and knocked out the leaves 15-10 at the end. They had a number of chances, including David Pastrnak alone in front, Brad Marchand crashed into the ice for a shot in the castle and Brandon Carlo hit the post.
The second period was a bit of a seesaw battle – the Leafs did early, Bruins responded essentially immediately, both teams did some good chances (Tavares in close range, Krejci again in front with a tip and missed the net shortly after), and then Leafarna shot two times on the power game before the Bruins responded with their own power game (it is remarkable that they are now 3/9 on the power game in the series).
What was impressive about Leaf's power play was all the kind they won to keep the attack alive, which is an area the team has been struggling with at times. Mitch Marner and Andreas Johnsson engaged with Patrice Bergeron, got the puck back, and both picked up helping Auston Matthews goal. Tavares checked hard and Matthews was strong on the puck that led to Johnsson's goal on the next power play. It is an old cliché, but power game units must perform punishment killing units to gain success (sometimes), and the blades did so in Game 3. The goals definitely went to Leaf's legs. This fourth line shift speaks for itself:
– Maple Leafs Hotstove (@LeafsNews) April 16, 2019
In the third period, the Leafer worked to answer a question many had had of them – how they would close a tight, low-score game with a goal measurement. Although the shots will show 10 – 8 for the Bruins, they were in the Leafs zone for stretches in the third. However, the leafs could counteract In particular, Zach Hyman broke in after crushing Zdeno Chara and Matthews was alone in tightness as well. But the third was about the magazine that knocked it out. Babcock went down in two lines and really only four defensemen, and it was hard to blame him. Matthews and the Tavares lines sometimes shifted to the puck in the offensive area (Matthews had a good one in the last few minutes getting a fate from the crowd). And of course it was Mitch Marner's bullet.
For me, apart from Frederik Andersen, Marner has consistently been the team's best player and the guy who drove the bus since the season started (and of course he also led the team in points). Seeing him be the guy who puts out and sacrifices his body with the game on the line … I mean what powerful message is sent to the rest of the group.
I was at the game and I have looked at the blocks and the celebration of replicas right after several times, but on TV you really couldn't appreciate how the kick up team came over it. In particular, the cameras did not really play how after the first hugs he received, including Muzzin lifted him off his feet – Matthews circled back for another round of screaming and encouraging. It was obviously a great game in the game, but it can be a game we look back on as something much bigger.
Entering the series, I discussed Leaf's competitiveness and how Kyle Dubas and Mike Babcock wondered about it. So far, Leafs has answered these questions for two games and has a game that they would probably want back. Then the playoff goes. Look at what Tampa and Pittsburgh did exactly (or didn't). Twice over the past six years, Bruins has eliminated the blade, and the blades never had a series of joints against them – so far. They look comfortable and they have a winning formula. Now can they stick to it?
- So, what did Leafs do with matchups? The Matthews line headed head to the Krejci line that had Jake DeBrusk and Karson Kuhlman on it. Interestingly, they got Torrey Krug – Brandon Carlo paired this time. The brown's kind chose in the head against the head, as Leafs with Tavares goes straight back to getting Bergeron in the big battle.
- Both teams had their top six forward each playing at least 17 minutes – it was a top heavy game that really came down to the best players on every team that beat it.
- Of course, the difference was when the leaves received a contribution from a deep line – in this case, Trevor Moore and the fourth row hit with a goal.
- Common Leaf Killer David Pastrnak is now without goals and one helps with 10 shots online through three matches.
- I think William NylanderThe final shift came with just under seven minutes left in the third. A few minutes later, Babcock put Frederik Gauthier instead of him. Nylander only played at 13:31 and has not played more than 15:08 so far in any of the playoff games. By now, it is fair to say that the coaching staff does not have so much confidence in him.
- Auston Matthews had a really good overall game – he will see the David Krejci case and realize that he was staring at the puck, which led Krejci to be alone in front of the net. In its own purpose, it is the type of positioning he will need to continue working on. You can't lose your husband so easily.
- Get thoughts about just staying there: Jake Muzzin is really good, as many of you knew. While speed can come to him sometimes, he is very patient with the puck and looks to play. I think it is the big reason that he has been stuck with Zaitsev, who notoriously puts it off the glass and out to the least possible sense of pressure. In the third step, Muzzin in the neutral zone, had the puck on his side of the middle, hesitated as if he was walking up the wall and then quietly hit a leaf forward in the middle of the ice for a clean pass. It wasn't a big game, but the sheets got the zone clean and spent time in there, which is much better than a dump-in giveaway.
- On an ice formation in the third, the Gardiner had the puck and waited as long as he could as Marleau had his back turned toward him, skating on ice instead of giving him an outlet or opening. Curtains eventually hit the wall because he had no choice. Marleau had no idea, and it went for glaze. Before the faceoff, Marleau swung Gardiner and said "my bad" and admitted it was on him. It is no wonder that it has been a bit of an adjustment for Muzzin, with all these sheets moving forward all the time and blowing the zone instead of opening and opening for a real outlet slip.
- Credit where it is due Nikita Zaitsev was good. He is physically along the walls and stops many cycles, as Babcock has noted before. Zaitsev is still struggling with the puck and misses open passes sometimes, but he gets in the way of Bruins forward in the defense area and he has been physically and aggressively, which helps to knock pucks that are loose for Leaf's players to sweep in and grab.
- The leaves can stand to use their speed more and drive the net from the rush. Often the leaves devastated in the corner or tried to round the net (Kasperi Kapanen and William Nylander were the most guilty of these two things) and the Bruins definitely have defenders The leaves can stand to attack the rush due to lack of footprints (or they are just small and weak). It actually felt like they respected them too much sometimes.
- I've said it several times, but being there lives, I can't stress how hurt Jake Gardiner is. This is the worst I have ever seen him skate and he has been here since 2011. Good for him to dress it up and not complain, but I really feel for the guy. Hopefully he can become comfortable and work his way into the games more.
"It's always interesting to me. We always talk about ice age, but what I do is just look at their shifts and how many shifts they had and they went long enough. Our game, how it is, if you play too long, You build up lactic acid and you can not perform at the highest level. To play defense you must be healthy. "
– Mike Babcock on ice age and changing length
Thought this was an interesting little nugget from Babcock about how he looks at games and bench management. Something to think about ahead.
"It can change quickly. We met them today and went over a couple of things and I think they recognize where they have left something insulting on the table. It has not been much of a line jump, offensive series. It has been a bit of a struggle for two offensive lines that play well defensively where they cannot make it go offensive. "
– Bruce Cassidy is keeping his top line together as he intends to do
This is a very interesting development in the series and the cleavage of the line can have a significant impact in some way. At the moment the leaves feel good about this match and should stick to it, but at some point you have to see that Bruins will get more out of these guys over a long series?
"Seeing all blue and white on the stands and driving to Scotiabank yesterday was phenomenal."
– John Tavares to play at home in the playoffs
It wasn't my first playoff game, including the Raptors game, and I tell you: The amount was amazing. There was a real buzz in the arena, and when Leafs led it was only higher and higher the longer it lasted. Frederik Andersen chants and bowl echoed across the arena. The place exploded when Matthews did.
"It's just another level when you make a goal in the playoffs, especially at home … it feels like an earthquake beneath you. The atmosphere tonight was incredible."
– Auston Matthews targets home
5 things I think I should do
- I think the sheets need a post-PP device because of these lines now. After a power game goal, the fourth row started the next shift and became completely dominated; In-game momentum-wise, it's not set to build on what's happening. It gets Bruins right back in it. The sheet can easily put together a Hyman – Nylander – Brown line (or dare I say Moore), then call back with the Matthews line and get everything back in order carefully.
- Speaking of Trevor Moore, he clearly needs additional ice age. Patrick Marleau really struggles – there really isn't much else to say. Meanwhile, Moore is physically, he creates turnover, and he controls the puck in the offensive. His speed and energy have been difficult for Bruins to handle and it is painfully obvious to the eye on pretty well every shift he takes. It won't happen, but he should really play on the third line with Nylander and Brown.
- I know there was a debate about whether to put Patrick Marleau in the center so William Nylander can play with Matthews, but I have no idea how to do it. Marleau is fighting on the wing right now, so how would my center look? And Nylander doesn't go right either. Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson does not illuminate the world in fire in any way, but both became really good other halves to Game 3 and that line is beginning to tear out good, offensive shifts. You must pretty well keep the two best lines together.
- If the Bruins split their top line, I think there is no real adjustment the blade can do right now. The Matthews line would only play against the Krejci line with Pastrnak on it and Tavares will get the Bergeron line without him there. I think you have to see the battle develop before you actually make any adjustments to it.
- I think a big key for Leafs just plays the whistle. They must keep it. Don't do any extra junk with Bruins and just play your game. An adjustment that they should look at is to send two in depth on the ex ante control more. It was a turnover almost every time.