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.
The structure of the Randy Carlyle system was more evident in Game 3 than in Game 2. He had last change, was able to keep Phil Kessel away from Zdeno Chara and work the matchup that worked so well for him, Mikhail Grabovski-on-David Krejci-working for much of the game. Unfortunately, his bottom six was killed, (RIP bottom six) and two costly mistakes gave the Bruins goals that proved to be the difference.
The Leafs did account for 47 shots on net, but who knows how many that would have been if the Bruins weren’t sitting back on a lead through the whole game. The problem with the Leafs is that they’re already overmatched in the series, both on paper and on the ice, so one mistake for them is more costly than any one Bruins mistake. The Bruins have three lines that can score. The Leafs have maybe two.
Invincible, no, but any time you lose the depth matchup, you’re toast. If I may speak my mind freely here, Jay McClement and Nazem Kadri have both not been particularly good in this series. While Grabovski has done a job shutting down the Bruins second unit, Kadri’s line has not been able to generate any offence, and the McClement line has not been on the ice for a single scoring chance “for” the Leafs.
Toronto is a one-line team right now. About 3/5ths of their offence, scoring-chance wise, is coming from the first line. Tyler Bozak, Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul account for 21 of the team’s 54 shots at even strength (I’m using BTN numbers, here).
The way that would work is that David Krejci (46 along the top) played 28% more time against Mikhail Grabovski (84 along the left) in Game 3 than in Game 2, which means that’s a matchup Carlyle prefers to Julien. That’s incredible since that line went straight head-to-head in Game 2. Since Carlyle was all out of sorts in Game 1, I’m going to ignore that game and focus instead on the more systemic approach he had in the second game of the series.
You’ll note that Carlyle had Kadri lining up against Patrice Bergeron more, and Bergeron saw tonnes more time up against that first defensive pairing for the Leafs. I’m not sure which one had a better hand in limiting that line’s chances in the third game of the series (they combined for one) but I’d wager to guess it’s more the defence than any one forward grouping. Carlyle went straight head-to-head with Kadri’s line against Chris Kelly, Rich Peverley and Jaromir Jagr and lost, but what more is he to do? Get new players in the middle of the series?
Another problem is that if you note the second chart, is that every other line on the Bruins saw less time against the Leafs’ top pairing in Game 3 than they did in Game 2, except for the first line. Unsurprising that the Bruins had a lot of success from the players that DIDN’T match up against Dion Phaneuf and Carl Gunnarsson. I’d like to see Carlyle balance out the minutes a little more: Bergeron took three of every four shifts against Phaneuf’s pairing and the rest of Phaneuf’s night was spent evenly against the other units.
Here’s how the scoring chances broke down in Game 3. I don’t post these normally because I don’t keep them in a spreadsheet, but I did last game so what the heck.
(I also want to show I’m not trying to sell snake oil with these. I sit and watch each game and note down scoring chances, then look back and check to see who was on the ice. The Bruins skaters are all listed under “B” by jersey number and the Toronto players by “T”. I also track to see which player took the shot and the pass. This is what it looks like for Game 3.)
I also bring this up to comment on the Leafs losing the Grabovski-Krejci match, it’s worth noting that Krejci was on the ice for six scoring chances “for” in 12 minutes of play (or one every two minutes) but just two in 8.9 minutes against Grabovski. A loss for Grabo’s line, but not as bad as it looks at first blush.
Anyway, I’ll be looking for improvement from Kadri tonight, hopefully he can provide some needed offence.
There’s also StreakCred, which is a tonne of fun. You can pick a winner in each game, or “skip” it, and the leaders are the players that guess the longest “streak” throughout the playoffs. The leader somehow got to 10, which is nuts, because I haven’t beaten 3 yet. I lost it all betting against Pittsburgh last night, although I was somewhat gaming the system because I’m rooting for the New York Islanders in that series.
So now I’m back to “1” after a Chicago win and skipping the Sharks-Canucks game. Just two good days and I’m back among the leaders… there’s also cool prizes and stuff. Sign up if you haven’t. Lots of the cool kids are doing it. It’s just $20 + GST and some of the proceeds will go to various Nations-supported charities. Link to sign up here.