Joseph Woll gets the call in Game 4 as the Leafs try to take it one step at a time: Leafs Tailgate
Photo credit:Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
By Nick Alberga14 days ago
In the illustrious and rich history of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, only four teams have managed to come back from a 3-0 series deficit.
Tonight, the Leafs will begin their quest to become the fifth team to pull off that dubious feat when they visit the Florida Panthers at FLA Live Arena for Game 4.
Back on Sunday night, Sam Reinhart potted the OT winner to give Florida a 3-2 victory. Additionally, they took Game 1 4-2 and came from behind to win 3-2 in Game 2.
Fresh off making 18 stops in relief of Ilya Samsonov, who was forced to leave Sunday’s contest in the second period due to what Sheldon Keefe officially labeled an upper body injury, rookie Joseph Woll will make his first career postseason start. Matt Murray will back up.
TIME: 7 ET (CBC, Sportsnet)
TOR Joseph Woll – CONFIRMED (0-1, 3.85, 0.846)
FLA Sergei Bobrovsky – CONFIRMED (6-1, 3.13, 0.909)
3 KEYS TO VICTORY:
THE CORE FOUR NEEDS TO SHOW UP
Honestly, I can’t believe I’m writing this, especially after how admirably they performed in Round 1 against Tampa. Without question, the biggest story of the series – at least from the Maple Leafs perspective – is the fact that the power foursome of Auston Matthews, William Nylander, Mitch Marner, and John Tavares have yet to score a goal in the series. On top of that, they were utter ghosts on Sunday night in the most important game of the season and/or their careers. Any way you slice it, if the Leafs are going to pull off the unthinkable here, they’ll need the big boys to lead the charge. If they can’t rise to the occasion, it’ll be curtains. And rest assured, the pitch forks – if they aren’t already – will be out in full force on Bay Street. I still can’t believe this could be it.
WHEN IN DOUBT, GET IT OUT
Through three games, the Leafs have had no answer for Florida’s forecheck. With that in mind, it’s paramount that they start working as one cohesive unit in the defensive zone. They’re trying to be way too cute with the puck and it’s costing them big-time. This is the Stanley Cup Playoffs, not a Wednesday night beer league. IT’S TIME TO WAKE UP. The most unfortunate part about the heinous turnovers and overall carelessness with the puck is the fact that the majority of them are coming from Toronto’s star players. Hell, even Ryan O’Reilly got into the act in Game 3. I know they’re a puck possession team, but sometimes, the right play is just to put the puck off the glass or boards and get it out. I wish they did that more often. Full credit to Florida, too. They’ve been very opportunistic when it comes to capitalizing on Toronto’s mistakes.
PROTECT THE HOUSE
With the season hanging in the balance, Joseph Woll is set to make his first ever Stanley Cup Playoff start. Quite honestly, I’m pretty confident in the guy. And thankfully, it seems like the Leafs are, too. That said, it doesn’t matter who’s tending the crease when a team’s playing defence like the Leafs are right now. As mentioned above, they need to clean things up in their own zone, or they’ll have no shot of doing anything significant here. At the very least, you know Florida’s going to do its very best to get in Woll’s grill, so how Toronto deals with that will be undoubtedly be an evolving storyline to monitor as the game goes on. I’m excited for the kid; he has nothing to lose.
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