Photo Credit: Christian Bonin/TSGPhoto.com
One game at a time. Just like we said here before Game 4. When you’re down by what appears to be an insurmountable amount, the objective should always be to push yourself to reach more realistic goals along the way.
Toronto had one of their best games, well, ever on Friday night, which is exactly what you want to see with the season on the line. William Nylander shook off the cobwebs and scored a Hat Trick while Josh Leivo and Connor Carrick added tallies of their own in a commanding 5-0 victory.
The most notable exceptions to the lineup were Brendan Leipsic and Sam Carrick, who were both scratched. Toronto ran with 11 forwards and 7 defencemen on Friday. It’s definitely possible that one of those two draw back in to restore the balance, though the team might not want to mess with success either. Kasperi Kapanen’s status is up in the air as well, which we’ll talk about in just a moment.
Hershey doesn’t strike me as the type of team that is going to flip tables and shuffle lines over a single loss when they still have the advantage in the series. With that said, they’re likely breathing a sigh of relief as Madison Bowey has officially escaped punishment for his actions in Game 4.
Bowey, as you’ll recall, elbowed Kapanen in the face and then said something to him while he was down. Many initially speculated that Bowey had used a homophobic slur in the process, but the league absolved him of guilt in that regard last night. For what it’s worth, we’re still of the belief that he said “faker”; still a childish thing to do, but not a total line-crosser. Today, they ruled that the hit, while deserving of a game misconduct, wasn’t suspension-worthy either.
Antoine Bibeau had one of his best games of the year on Friday, stopping all 18 shots. Those who love a good hot-hand debate will be terrified to know that Bibeau has only followed up a 0.950+ night with a quality (above league average 0.905) start once this year, and that was a 3-game stretch in January in which he had a game of rest in between starts on both occasions. The team will no doubt be hoping that he blows off that trend this afternoon.
Meanwhile, Hershey will hope that Justin Peters shakes off his Game 4 performance and gets back to his run of form today. Friday’s five goals against on 33 shots was just his second sub-0.900 performance in 12 playoff games. However, he also had 22 of those in 37 appearances during the regular season. Which Justin Peters is the real Justin Peters? We’ll have a better idea soon enough.
It’s the same thing as last game; flood the net and play like it’s the last game you’ll ever take part in. Nobody comes back from 3-0 by conserving energy for Game 7; you get to Game 7 because you played like every game was Game 7.
Puck Drop is at 3:00 PM at Ricoh Coliseum. For those of you taking transit, do keep in mind that the subway is closed from Downsview to St. Clair West; meaning that the 29 Dufferin and 63 Ossington, which take you closest to the rink from uptown, might be a bit harder to get to.