Last night’s crushing 7-3 loss to the Bruins was very reminiscent of game one which saw the Bruins top line shred the Maple Leafs blueline and make quick work of the Maple Leafs. Like with game one, the Maple Leafs had no answer and by the end of the game were left with even more tough questions heading back to Toronto now down two games in their best of seven series.
How do the Maple Leafs stop the Bruins top line in time to salvage the series in game three? Can Frederik Andersen find his mid-season form and possibly steal a game for his teammates and can someone tell me what happened to Auston Matthews, William Nylander and the rest of the Maple Leafs who have been noticeable for their absence in the past two games?
The Maple Leafs after games one and two appear to have lost their swagger they had going into the series, the results on the ice in the first two games leave much to be desired, and excuses can only go so far. The officiating doesn’t explain the complete lack of concentration and effort these last two games, what has been so frustrating to me isn’t the lineup combinations that many fans have complained about but the lack of work ethic displayed. This is playoff hockey, nothing is given and you can’t be having “off” nights on the biggest stage at the most important time of the year.
What has worked so well for the Bruins to date is to a man, each player is leaving everything on the ice each play, each shift and each game. By the looks at the wave of pressure put on the Maple Leafs by all four lines, the results are clearly evident.
If I am coach Babcock, I am putting the troops though bag skate after bag skate. I am doing whatever possible to light a fire under the player’s asses because even after the disappointment in game one there didn’t appear to be much urgency throughout the line-up to be ready to play last night either. Outside of some blimps of pressure created by the Maple Leafs, they found themselves falling behind early and not able to get back into the game.
For me that is the most critical and alarming factor so far, is that the Maple Leafs appear comfortable just making the playoffs this season. What made the series last year different from this year’s is that Maple Leafs even though the results didn’t go their way, they left everything they had on the ice against the Washington Capitals. Can that truly be said this year? Looking back at the first two games, aren’t we all left with the feeling that the Maple Leafs haven’t played their best hockey.
Let’s give some credit to Boston too, they have shown up as advertised. The Bruins have shown the ability to score at will (sound familiar Leafs fans? What happened to those Maple Leafs?), They are stingy on defense and if rewarded with a Power Play will make you pay for your mistakes. Even with that said, I wouldn’t be so concerned if the Maple Leafs played their best and lost like last season. I can live with the fact that the better team won, what I can’t live with is the effort I have seen so far. If it is frustrating us fans, better believe Shanahan, Lamoriello and the rest of the management group is seeing this too.
If the Maple Leafs can’t find their form that saw them set franchise records for wins and points in a season by tomorrow night’s game three all that would have been for naught. This summer doesn’t get any easier with the possible departures of Tyler Bozak, James van Riemsdyk and Leo Komarov. There will be huge changes coming in the off-season given the early results in these playoffs, I would expect if things don’t turn around that there are more players playing themselves off the roster for next season after this showing. Because if this team with so much promise and potential is to take the next step then there can’t be any passenger enjoying simply the ride.