The accidental juggernaut - Why the Leafs deserved a win in Game 4

Cam Charron
May 09 2013 10:56AM

Photo via Claus Anderson/Getty via NHL Interactive

The first step I'm sure is making sure Mark Fraser is okay. He took an ugly puck off the face and bled his way to the hospital, where he was being checked for broken bones in his forehead

It was an ugly scene, but there was something lighthearted about the way that Hockey Night's Craig Simpson suggested that the member of the ice crew who scraped the blood into James Reimer's net was somehow in the wrong.

Either way, we were left with a Maple Leafs rotation of five defencemen: Dion Phaneuf, Carl Gunnarsson, Cody Franson, Ryan O'Byrne, and Jake Gardiner, who played one hell of a game and filled Fraser's shoes defensively while providing offence.

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Leafs can't beat Lady Luck, lose in OT and trail 3-1 in series

Cam Charron
May 08 2013 09:40PM

Photo via Claus Anderson/Getty via NHL Interactive

At the start of the third period, we saw the team that Brian Burke meant to build. Burke repeatedly said during his tenure in Toronto that he wanted to build an exciting team, with speed and heart. For 20 minutes we got that. For 33 minutes we got that, actually, as a Toronto Maple Leafs team, lead by core guys like Phil Kessel, Jake Gardiner, Joffrey Lupul  and James van Riemsdyk, all acquired by Burke, took it to the Boston Bruins and put them on the brink of tying the series.

But all that counts is that one mistake. In a split second, Dion Phaneuf tried make the overtime more physical. Maybe he thought he'd create a turnover and give the Leafs a chance. Phaneuf stepped up to make a hit on Nathan Horton, and the result of that was disaster. The Bruins' best two offensive players all night, David Krejci and Milan Lucic, came away on a 2-on-1 in the overtime period with Ryan O'Byrne the only man back.

No matter how much of the flow the Leafs controlled in the previous period and a half, it doesn't matter. You often don't survive when Krejci, both a shooter and premier playmaker, has the puck on his stick. James Reimer did his best to squeeze at the shot, but it trickled in. Boston won 4-3 and take a commanding 3-1 series lead.

I said that the Maple Leafs' best performance of the season was in Game 2. I may have lied. The Toronto Maple Leafs' best game of the season was in Game 4. They have nothing to show for it, but an unlikely situation forced Randy Carlyle into using lines and defensive pairings he had yet to experiment with on the season, and the result was really something.

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Playoffs!!!1 gameday: Game 4 Bruins @ Leafs

Cam Charron
May 08 2013 02:09PM

Click on the headers of our blogs in the upper right of our website there. All of them are in some varying stage of discussing their respective team's offseason. At least the folks at Canucks Army had the chance to discuss four playoff games.

The Leafs Nation is the last blog standing at The Nation Network. I've sent an email off to the blogrunners of those sites to drop and give me 20 pushups, and each pushup they have to recite one name off of the Maple Leafs' roster.

Of course, the Leafs have come much further than anybody (myself included) thought they might. Tonight there's a lot on the line. Either the Maple Leafs even the series at 2, or go back into the Bs hive down 3 games to 1.

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Talkin' faceoffs

Cam Charron
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.

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R1G3 Sober Second Thoughts: What they're saying, what we're saying

Cam Charron
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.

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