Listen, we can all sit here and be miserable and debate Game Two, hold grudges over who was suspended and who wasn’t or we can be pleased that the Leafs took one game in Boston and enjoy that Toronto holds the home ice advantage in the series now. There is silver lining. There is also Game One that serves as a solid blueprint for how the Leafs need to approach the Bruins and that’s to use their skill to capitalize on the Bruins mistakes. Make Boston skate.
While it’s easy to point fingers at Nazem Kadri for putting the Leafs in a hole before even starting this game, the departure of Kadri also affords the Leafs the opportunity to shuffle their deck a little. We can assume the Hyman-Tavares-Marner line will stay intact, but the rest of the lines needed some change and now they are going to get it if they like it or not.
As for the Bruins, well, they are going to be even bigger dicks tonight. I wouldn’t doubt that the refs will be looking to control this game a bit more, but since the Bruins are perpetual line steps, eventually we’ll see things transition back to “you can’t call everyone” and they’ll get to play their way. As long as the Bruins don’t caught early on this, they should be home free.
It’s pretty hard to like these lines. Nylander at center between Marleau and Brown essentially gives the Leafs a second fourth line. Marleau has run out of gas, as sad as it is to say that, it’s true and he should be on the 4th line. Brown is an ideal fourth line winger, but an incredibly underwhelming third line option. Throw in the fact that Johnsson-Matthews-Kapanen is not working and has never worked, and we’re left with Ennis-Gauthier-Moore, which is probably the least objectionable of the bottom three lines, but we should all have come to terms with the fact that Freddie Gauthier is not good enough to be in this role and Petan deserves his shot.
That’s a lot of fussing on my part, but I still think Hyman-Tavares-Marner is nails, so there’s that, and I’m not ready to complain about defensive pairings, largely because there’s no chance in hell they are changed.
I guess you don’t mess with what worked. There is a good chance that players like Krug and DeBrusk are a bit more sore and worse for wear, and still no Marcus Johansson, but it’s still a lineup that had little trouble with the Leafs two nights ago.
The Leafs have the advantage of final line change, so hopefully they take advantage of that and use it for dictating the pace of the game rather than trying to match who the Bruins send out, because I’ll let you in on a secret, and Mike Babcock hopefully you are reading this too, the Leafs aren’t good enough defensively to effectively shutdown anyone, so why not push the offensive pace instead?
Rask and Andersen, same as it ever was. Both have a game they are pretty happy with, and both had one where their team let them down more than it should be put on them. Through two games both goaltenders are sitting at identical .937 save percentages, which is pretty darn good, and kinda kills a lot of the struggling down the stretch narrative that plagued both goaltenders. Hutchinson is back on the bench tonight, and Garret Sparks is resuming his training montage.
The game is once again on CBC, but returns to the fan friendly time of 7:00 PM ET