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Game 3 preview: An encore from the Most Dangerous Man on the Ice

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Photo credit:Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
Arun Srinivasan
1 month ago
Auston Matthews is eight years into his decorated career and yet, no one’s managed to give him a fitting nickname. Sure, we know No. 34 as ‘Papi’ — although it should be exercised with caution, especially against the Boston Bruins as it used to be the nearly-exclusive domain of Boston Red Sox legend David Ortiz.
Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery solved this problem for us: Matthews is the Most Dangerous Man on the Ice.
“What I’ve been impressed with him about is how tenacious he’s been on pucks, how tenacious he’s been on the forecheck,” Montgomery said of Matthews on Tuesday via The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa. “He’s been relentless with his work ethic. First goal, he wins a battle, rings it off the crossbar, ends up in our net. The other play, he gets in behind us. We can’t let him get in behind us.
“He’s the most dangerous man on the ice because he’s earned it.”
Matthews authored the signature game of his career on Monday, leading the Maple Leafs to a 3-2 victory with the game-winning goal, two primary assists, six hits, eight shots in a dominant effort. Toronto’s proverbial back was against the wall, a 2-0 deficit would be considered insurmountable. We’re not here to move the goalposts but can we can get an encore from the Most Dangerous Man on the Ice? Toronto’s control of the series relies upon it.
William Nylander’s status remains in limbo, after missing the first two games of the series. Nylander is Toronto’s second-best forward, posting a career-best 40 goals and 98 points while playing in all 82 regular season games. He’s built into the Maple Leafs’ calculus for playoff success and Matthews is lifting mountains without him, especially after Mitch Marner submitted consecutive listless performances at TD Garden.
Look what you made me do, look what I made for you! Matthews isn’t on an island by himself and his linemates, Tyler Bertuzzi and Max Domi, responded to Keefe’s callout after an undisciplined Game 1 loss. It certainly feels that way, however. Marner, John Tavares and Matthew Knies combined for a paltry 12 percent share of the expected goals in Game 2. Matthews is taking on a larger load of the Maple Leafs’ offense than ever before and it’s proving to be a necessity against a Bruins team that is lethal on the counterattack.
Matthews has been primarily defended by Hampus Lindholm at 5-on-5, playing 23:46 against each other via Natural Stat Trick. During this time, Matthews has registered a 54.4 percent share of the expected goals, while the Maple Leafs have outshot the Bruins 15-12. Lindholm was on the ice for both of Toronto’s goals at 5-on-5 — Domi’s response and Matthews’ iconic game-winner which has reverberated around Toronto for the past 36 hours and change.
Help could be on the way. Nylander could very well be ready to play Game 3, although this latest round of speculation doesn’t help anyone, least of all Matthews, who is carrying a Herculean load on both ends of the ice. Marner, who has been under tremendous scrutiny for the past week, could silence his critics with a return to form. Matthews can’t take these possible developments for granted. He’s the Most Dangerous Man on the Ice and the Scotiabank Arena faithful are ready for an encore!

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