Leafs need a strong outing in Game 2 after embarrassing loss

By: Spencer Lussier

The Boston Bruins have only one win against the Leafs in the last two regular seasons but showed why the playoffs are a whole different animal with a 5-1 thrashing of the Leafs. The Bruins used their size and strength to command and dominate the Leafs in Game 1 of this opening round matchup. Things eventually went from bad to worse for the Leafs. With the game already out of reach for the Leafs, Nazem Kadri hit Bruins forward Tommy Wingles while he was on the ground, making contact with the Wingles’ head. As a result, Kadri was suspended three games for this action, leaving a lasting effect on this series that the Leafs will need to overcome. For Kadri, that may have his final game in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, if his team cannot pick up a win in his absence.

What went wrong in Game 1?

One of the biggest factors I preached about in this series is if the Leafs maintain a level head and not let emotion get the better of them. It was going to be tough given the 2013 collapse storyline and the heated rivalry these teams have with each other, but for this young team they succeed when they stick to a simple game plan laid out by Head Coach Mike Babcock. Clearly emotion got the better of the Leafs in Game 1 as they put the 4th ranked power play of the Bruins on six power play opportunities, with three of them finding the back of the net. Not to mention the lingering effect of Kadri’s emotional decision to hit a defenceless player in the head, hurts the team by losing one of Toronto’s most important players for the next three games.

What needs to happen in Game 2?

With the Leafs needing to play a defensive game in Game 1 because of the 21 minutes of penalties, staying out of the box is key for Game 2. It puts you down a player obviously, but it also leaves your star players sitting on the bench as a non-factor. Game 1 the Leafs’ stars looked invisible because the team needed to shift their attention to killing penalties and defending, which is never a good recipe for success. Credit is given to Boston for a tremendous defensive effort in Game 1, not giving the Leafs young core room and space to create any offensive momentum, but regardless the Leafs need to make sure the give as much time possible to the players that can change the game in just one shift.

That leads perfectly into the next thing that needs to happen in Game 2 which is more of a presence from the young three of Matthews, Marner and Nylander. We saw guys the veterans bail this team out when Matthews was injured and when Nylander and Marner were struggling early in the season. Now with Kadri out, it is vital to the Leafs playoff success that this young trio produce like how they did in the regular season.

As of right now let’s chalk Game 1 up to just one bad game because of penalty trouble. Everyone knows the importance in Game 2 for the Leafs and how a win could swing momentum in their favour with the series shifting to Toronto for Games 3 and 4.

 

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