Knee Jerk Reaction: Leafs do absolutely nothing right, fall behind 3-1 in series against Bruins

Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Hobson
1 month ago
If you were a skeptic of the way this Leafs team was built this season, you’re likely feeling vindicated right now.
With an opportunity to head back to Boston with a split at home and a chance to tie the series, the Leafs delivered an effort that was akin to Game 7 against Montreal in 2020-21 and finished by the same score of 3-1. If you didn’t watch that game or don’t know how it went, that’s not a good thing.
From the minute the puck dropped in the first period, they didn’t have their legs. Boston smothered them at every opportunity, and on the rare occasion a shot did get through, it was series kryptonite Jeremy Swayman between the pipes to stop anything from crossing the goal line. The result was just about as ugly as it’s been for them in a while, on a number of fronts.
Mitch Marner found himself in a negative spotlight once again, which is hilarious considering he scored their only goal in the 3-1 loss. But for a guy who’s been feeling the pressure more than anyone else, he looked the part tonight. He was hard-pressed to win a single puck battle, and aside from the goal, he made nothing happen with the puck on his stick. His performance was criticized on both the Sportsnet and TNT intermissions, and there was even a clip of a verbal exchange with Auston Matthews and William Nylander where the latter appeared to say something along the lines of “stop f**king crying, this isn’t junior hockey”.
Matthews was held to another quiet night on the stat sheet and only managed 40 minutes before it was announced he wouldn’t return to the game during second intermission. He’s missed two practices due to maintenance days after battling an illness of some sort, so it’s possible the same illness flared up during the game. I don’t see a world where he stayed in the dressing room for the third period of a playoff game because of a tummy ache.
Nylander looked fine in his return, but when you consider the effort from the team as a whole, it doesn’t really shine a light on anything. The Leafs are now faced with the challenge of winning three in a row against the Bruins, which is about as steep an uphill climb as you can get at this point, and with Joseph Woll coming into the game in favour of Ilya Samsonov in Game 4, it’s not unlikely he gets the start for Game 5.
Either way, the Leafs have made themselves an uncomfortable bed to lay in. All they can do if they want to prove they’re different is show it on the ice.

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