Knee Jerk Reaction: Special teams and goaltending the difference in Game 1 loss

Photo credit:Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Hobson
6 days ago
In an outcome that likely left many upset but few shocked, the Toronto Maple Leafs lost Game 1 of the first round to the Boston Bruins, 5-1.
This isn’t to say it’s over by any means. But, if you ask your standard Leafs fan how they would feel about the Leafs’ odds over the Bruins in a series-opening game on the road, chances are they would err on the side of losing.
From a possession standpoint, the Leafs didn’t look all that bad for most of the game. But, the score will tell you otherwise, and that can be directly attributed to a lack of discipline, a lesser performance in net, and special teams that still haven’t figured it out.
If you want to glass half-full the game, the team also mailed in Game 1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning last year and came away with a 4-2 series win. The year before, they won Game 1 convincingly and lost the series in seven games. They held up physically to the Bruins, finishing dead even in hits with 50 apiece, and had a great game from the fourth line.
Here’s where the glass half empty part comes into play. The special teams were still questionable at best (0-for-3 on the power play, 3-for-5 killing penalties), Ilya Samsonov let in Boston’s first shot of the game after the Leafs carried the momentum for the first two minutes, and the star players were held off of the scoresheet.
If you want my honest opinion, the game came down to two instances. The first goal of the game got the Bruins into a game that easily could have carried on longer in Toronto’s favour and perhaps led to an opening goal on their side. The Auston Matthews high-sticking penalty in the offensive zone that extended Boston’s lead was the final nail in the coffin. The Leafs took two high sticking penalties, courtesy of Matthews and Bertuzzi, and a Max Domi slashing penalty gave Boston an extra insurance goal before the end of the second period only two and a half minutes later. Taking those bad penalties is forgivable if they’re honest and a result of hard work, not careless and juvenile.
I’m not going to gatekeep anybody’s feelings. If you’re fuming and sick of trying to defend your favourite team, go for it. If you’re burned out and indifferent, go nuts. My only advice would be to save your anger for post-elimination. Hopefully the Leafs have bring their anger without the stupid penalties in Game 2 on Monday.

Failed to load video.

Check out these posts...