May 08 2013 10:26AM
A quick thought on faceoffs here, since Randy Carlyle is scratching his head about whether or not the Boston Bruins cheat in the dot. Frankly, they may, but has that really had an effect on the series?
I've written at both The Leafs Nation and Canucks Army with thoughts about how overvalued faceoffs are. "Faceoffs" of this year seems to be the "shot blocking" of last year, when everybody was discussing the success of the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers blocking shots and playing stifling, defensive hockey.
May 07 2013 03:46PM
It's always important at any time during a season or a series to think "it's a long series, it's not over yet". Not until the opponent has won their fourth game of the series, there's still that last fraying thread of hope, that cursed vestige of optimism that tricks the logical brain into thinking that your team has the slightest chance of winning a championship and haunts you for days.
The Leafs aren't at that point yet—far from it, but the win by the team in Game 2, and a subsequent good performance in Game 3 marred by a couple of sloppy mistakes and a great performance from Tuukka Rask, can leave no rational person watching those games thinking "the Leafs don't have a chance against the Bruins".
But they do, and Boston still needs to win two more game. They're only halfway there, and the 2-1 series deficit isn't an impossible one to come back from. There are some aspects of the Maple Leafs game that do need fixing.
May 07 2013 02:44PM
Tuukka Rask comes back to haunt the Leafs. WHO SAW THAT ONE COMING?!?!?
May 06 2013 08:53PM
Photo via Graig Abel/NHL Interactive
Not many ways to polish this one. A 5-2 loss to the Boston Bruins in Game 3 and the Leafs fall behind two games to one in the series.
It's hard to see exactly what went wrong, though. Phil Kessel got his fair share of time away from Zdeno Chara as Toronto had an easier time controlling the individual matchups. Jake Gardiner was skating really strong and got some offence going. The Leafs shut down the Bruins top line of Tyler Seguin, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, holding them to two shots apiece and a single scoring chance between them.
Can't have been special teams. Even after allowing a disheartening shorthanded goal to Daniel Paille, the Leafs were +1 in special teams, going two-for-six on their own powerplay, in addition to out-shooting Boston 11-1 at 4-on-4. There were a lot of individual efforts to like, and a lot of micro areas of the game you could analyze and conclude the Maple Leafs were a better team.
But they weren't. The Bruins had them beat 5-on-5, almost brutally. A game played in stark juxtaposition to the second game of the series, in front of a boisterous crowd backed by many more thousands outside the doors. Leafs Nation showed up, and the Maple Leafs did as well. Unfortunately, they were beaten by a real good hockey team on Monday night. Details below.
May 06 2013 01:08PM
Hope! Change! Freedom! I didn't think it was unlikely that the Toronto Maple Leafs would win a game in this series, but I thought it was unlikely that the Toronto Maple Leafs would win a game where they didn't have to bank on the play of James Reimer to pull out on top.
Game 2, that's exactly what they did. They significantly out-chanced Boston (with the caveat: if you exclude second-chance rebound opportunities, which are sporadic and random and rare, Boston held a slim 11-10 advantage at even strength, 10-10 at five-on-five) and came close to out-shooting the Bruins at the 40-minute mark.
At the start of the third, they exploited a matchup quirk, got a big goal from Phil Kessel, and their defensive line bent on shutting down the opposition's top offensive line got themselves a big goal late in the contest.
All in all, strong effort, and the right guys got rewarded. What changes in Game 2?