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Photo Credit: © Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

Day After Thoughts: Soupy shutouts and the Alex Galchenyuk Revenge Tour

Josh Anderson said of the Montreal Canadiens coming into Game 4 against the Toronto Maple Leafs “you’ll see a hungrier team tonight,” and in hindsight, the Habs should not have skipped their pregame meal.

An air of uncertainty hung over the Leafs in the leadup to Game 4. Sheldon Keefe didn’t appear in front of the media to provide any lineup updates until about two hours before puck drop, so all day, the waves of speculation raged: would Campbell be trusted to start on back-to-back nights or would the ice-cold Frederik Andersen be called upon? Would Nick Foligno return? Would any of the veterans take the night off in favour of getting some young blood in?

And once the updates did arrive, one particular lineup change sparked some confusion: Rasmus Sandin would be sitting and Travis Dermott would draw in. In less controversial moves, Riley Nash drew out in favour of Adam Brooks.

The young Brooks’s chemistry with the grizzled vets on the fourth line bubbled back to the surface early in the game as he set Jason Spezza on a clean breakaway with a brilliant pass. This play unfortunately didn’t result in the opening goal, but it’s not the last time we’ll be mentioning Spezza (or Brooksie) in this piece.

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In a first for me, I took hand-written notes throughout this game, and I’m going to be relying heavily on gifs and videos from Twitter to highlight the reason behind each note. The next one was very short, simple and to the point: “PK= Still Good.” I’m not sure if it was written during the (questionable) Brodie slashing penalty or the subsequent too many men call, but in either case, the PK continues to be a surprising bright spot for this team, if only they could capitalize on some of those many odd-man rushes.

One other small gripe I have about the Leafs defensive effort is that no one even attempts to hit Cole Caulfield during this sequence:

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I know, I know, it’s supposed to be a gentlemen’s game and the unspoken rules say you don’t hit rookies too hard, but just try and bump him off the puck rather than let him dangle through a sea of sticks.

One final observation before we get into the good stuff: is it just me or was the ice at the Bell Centre just terrible last night? Players were falling all over the place seemingly at random, let’s hope the ice at the Scotiabank Arena is much better when they return for Game 5.

The 2nd Period Leafs showed up once again in this game, and once again, Bill from Calgary got the scoring going off some beautiful passing by the Alexs.

William Nylander has goals in all four games of the series so far, matching the longest postseason-opening scoring streak for a Leaf, which is huge, but I want to give a special shoutout to Galchenyuk, not only for the pretty pass to Willy, but for being very smart during the zone entry and staying on-side:

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As the title suggests, this was very much an Alex Galchenyuk revenge game, as he added another assist later in the period, a picture-perfect saucer pass over to Jason Spezza.

The Leafs added one more goal in the 2nd frame, this one came on the power play courtesy of a Vintage connection and Joe Thornton finding the speed boost button from NHL 2003.

Remember how I said we’d be mentioning Adam Brooks again? He was on the receiving end of the textbook definition of a make-up call after the refs missed a trip on Paul Byron shortly before the Thornton goal.

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The Leafs get out of the period and have now outscored the Habs 8-1 in the second period across all games of the series, which is just a phenominal and almost unbelievable stat.

The third was pretty uneventful, the Leafs locked it down, and Jack was steady as always.

Side note, doesn’t it look like Gallagher is raising his elbow as he’s approaching Campbell towards the end of the gif? You wanna give every opponent the benefit of the doubt, but the Habs have shown time and time again that they’re not above gutless plays after the whistle throughout the series, so that motion stands out to me as if he was considering some nonsense.

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Doesn’t matter now anyway because shortly afterwards, the better Gally called game:

Final note simply says “Jack Campbell, shutout.” He was amazing throughout the entire game, Dialed-in with a razor sharp focus, his play is a big reason for Leafs Nation’s confidence that this series will be wrapped up in short order.

Tweets of the Night

Lastly, let’s shine a spotlight on some of the best tweets from last night’s game:

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The Leafs are good and Baghead saying something nice about Bill from Calgary? Sounds like a Twilight Zone episode to me.

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This “narrative” being perpetuated throughout the Montreal fanbase and media is honestly hilarious to me, the league is obviously biased towards Leafs success, how else do you explain all of their Stanley Cups in the last half-century?

Whoever’s chopping onions, cut it out!

Lastly, the tweet of the night comes from an unlikely source, but it’s content speaks for itself:

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That’s it for me, hopefully you enjoyed this deep dive, and hopefully we witness another big performance on Thursday night!