Photo Credit: Christian Bonin/TSGPhoto.com
Certain people in this city slammed the panic button this week. After the traumatic 8-2 blowout in Game 3, observers were quick to declare the Toronto Marlies’ season as a wasted effort, and that William Nylander’s lack of production was a sign that he wasn’t the player everybody felt that he was.
Apparently, the young Swede and his teammates disagreed with this sentiment. The Marlies bounced back in a big way tonight, as Nylander scored a Hat Trick and the Marlies outshot the Bears by nearly double in a commanding 5-0 victory.
Toronto had control of this game from the very start but took some time getting on the score sheet, but Nylander put them on the board in the last minute of the first. A wrist shot fed to him by TJ Brennan put the team up with 32 seconds left in the period, setting the tone for the rest of the game that followed.
History repeated itself late in the second period. This time, Connor Carrick was the setup man, and Nylander’s wrister proved fully-loaded once again as it beat Justin Paters for the second time of the night. This meant a multi-goal lead for the Marlies for the first time in this series. As anybody who watched Game 3 would tell you, though, the game doesn’t stop after 40 minutes. Toronto needed to keep the motors spinning to avoid a meltdown like Wednesday.
Not only did they do so, they did it in a way that may have reversed the tide of this series.
Five minutes into the third period, Jakub Vrana, who had been having a chippier-than-usual game, was sent to the box for holding, putting Toronto on their second powerplay of the game. After a battle in front of the net, Josh Leivo managed to squeeze the puck past Peters to give his team insurance. Frustrated, Aaron Ness crosschecked Leivo into Peters. Not seeing the hit, Tyler Lewington freaked out, immediately attacking Leivo for actions he didn’t actually commit. This gave Toronto another powerplay, in which Connor Carrick saw a clear chance to score on his former team. That’s exactly what he did, going top-shelf and giving his teammates of the past a good look at his jersey in celebration.
Naturally, this just angered the Bears more, which led to this dangerous hit from Madison Bowey on Kasperi Kapanen a few minutes later.
Bowey got a five minute major and game misconduct for this hit on Kapanen. pic.twitter.com/7sZYpmbBcO
— Dylan Nadwodny (@dnadders) May 28, 2016
I’m going to break away from the good vibes for a few minutes. First off, this is a reckless, dangerous hit. It’s a targeted elbow to the head, and it absolutely deserves consideration for a suspension. The referees felt the same way, giving him five minutes and a game for it. But what happened afterward is the talk of social media right now.
— capybara at large (@gunnrcarlsson) May 28, 2016
While Kapanen was down on the ice, Bowey had some words for him. The accepted opinion is that he said “get up, you [homophobic slur that begins with an f]”. It’s not the most unreasonable assumption, especially after Andrew Shaw’s slur in the NHL playoffs a few weeks ago.
With that said, we should tread very carefully when accusing players of saying things so obviously and terribly offensive and demeaning to an entire demographic of people. The gravity of the accusation isn’t quite as strong as the gravity of the word, but it’s still tarnishing to one’s reputation.
With Shaw, the context made it obvious what he was saying. Here, I’m not sure.
I’m not a lip reading expert, but my initial thought was that “faker” was the last word. It’s also a two-syllable F-word, and given that Kapanen was on the ground appearing to be injured, it fits the context much more. I consulted a local mirror and, upon saying the two words several times, concluded that their lip motions are nearly identical. I genuinely believe that’s what was said here.
If I’m wrong, and it’s the homophobic slur, Bowey deserves an even longer suspension than the one he deserves for the hit. No question. Even the lightest of head hits are unacceptable, and the same goes for even the most casual homophobia is as well. But I’ll wait to hear from league officials before throwing out the accusation, with all things considered.
Back to the game. The Marlies had a five-minute powerplay, and you could tell that Nylander wanted that third goal. It was vital for the 20-year-old, who has disappointed some with his 7-in-12 point output heading into tonight. Late in the man-advantage, with his dad and brother watching in the stands, he got it.
The crowd, who was already well into the game at this point, showed no mercy to Peters, Bronx cheering him with every safe and jeeringly calling out his name. Suddenly, it was the Bears who were lifeless, and a little angry, as the final buzzer sounded.
The series is now at 3-1. Still a very tough challenge, but a little less difficult than it was 48 hours prior. A good effort was the absolute baseline for Toronto tonight with their season on the line, and this may have been their best all season. The team was aggressive, eager, and relentless from beginning to end. Antoine Bibeau’s night was made easy by those in front of him, but even he looked very good, and was rewarded with a 17-save shutout.
Toronto’s next chance to extend this series comes on Sunday, when they’ll play a weekend afternoon game that they’ve been so good at throughout the course of the regular season. Will they keep things up? That remains to be seen. But suddenly, hope has returned, internally and externally.