BOSTON — The first game without Nazem Kadri had nothing to do with Kadri at all.
It had to do with the Leafs being absolutely embarrassed for the second straight game by the Boston Bruins. It had to do with the Leafs inability to handle the Bruins big line, the team’s quick, wide passing game, and to not find any way at all to match the Bruins intense play on the boards, away from the boards and in front of their own net.
However optimistic anyone might have been about the Leafs playoff chances, this team has been exposed by the Bruins, piece by piece, pass by pass, in just about every conceivable hockey way in a 7-3 defeat.
If the Leafs don’t show up and play with a little more stones at home, this season could be over before Kadri returns for Game 5. There might not be a Game 5 if this continues.
And no one thought that was possible.
SCOUTING THE BRUINS
Two things the Bruins definitely do better than the Leafs. One is move the puck. Quickly and accurately. Often to a player cutting. By design or maybe by talent assessment, the Leafs can’t move the puck as quickly or with the kind of accuracy the Bruins have demonstrated through two games in the series.
The other thing the Leafs don’t seem to be able to match is the battle on the loose pucks. So many times in the first two games, there was a puck battle between the Leafs and the Bruins. Boston has owned the loose puck in the series and the more they seem to own it, the more dis-spirited the Leafs seem to play.
THE BIG LINE
Boston’s No. 1 line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, the best line in hockey, had six points in Game 1 against the Leafs and followed that up with six points in the first period as Boston went ahead 4-0. In the first 75 minutes of the series, the Bruins had outscored the Leafs 9-1. The line ended up ended the night with 14 points, 20 in the series thus far … Auston Matthews is still looking for his first. Pastrnak and Marchand were on the ice for all seven Boston goals.
THIS AND THAT
This is for the stats crowd. The Leafs trailed 4-0 at the end of the first period and were well ahead in shot attempts through two periods. I know, small sample size … The only Leaf to show any life in the first period was fourth liner, Kasperi Kapanen. He had a shorthanded breakaway and seemed one of the few Toronto players willing to challenge the Bruins … Toronto finally got a goal, not that it really mattered, when Mitch Marner and Zach Hyman broke in 2-on-1 on Boston. Marner fed Hyman, who made a nifty pass across to Marner for the second in the second period. The low scoring Hyman had points on Toronto’s first two goals of the series … Connor Brown, who has been in a difficult slump, has assists in both games for the Leafs … Leafs defenceman Ron Hainsey did get upset when a Bruin hit Marner, and he found up fighting Tim Schaller. But on the play Hainsey was penalized an extra two minutes for initiating the scrap. While in the penalty box, Rick Nash scored his first playoff goal for the Bruins, just 11 seconds in to the man advantage situation … Nash opened the night for Boston being hit with a strong outlet pass that saw him race behind Morgan Rielly and in clear for a breakaway. Nash shot wide. On the bench afterwards, he looked upset about missing the easy opportunity … Two games of the playoffs, two too-many-men on-the-ice penalties for the Leafs. That’s inexcusable … Feisty forward Leo Komarov went down at 3:50 of the second period and had to helped to the ice after he collided with Bruins defenceman Kevan Miller. The play actually began with Komarov trying to hit Miller. His knee seemed to buckle on the attempt. He didn’t return … Rookie Ryan Donato replaced Tommy Wingels, injured in the first game on the Kadri hit that resulted in a suspension … The Leafs can’t handle the Bruins power play. Boston had three power-play goals in Game 1 and worked on their penalty kill between games and the Bruins came out and scored two power-play goals in the first period … In Game 1, you could point to coaching points that cost the Leafs. Game 2 was just a blowout. The Leafs just didn’t compete enough to even be in the game.
In light of the Kadri suspension, Babcock changed three of his four lines to start Game 2. Then he continued to play with his lines and his defensive pairings as the game got away from the Leafs. The Leafs did play better in the second half of the game with an altered lineup, but it’s hard to tell whether that was because of the changes made or because the Bruins lost a little intensity with such a large lead.
NOT FREDDY’S FAULT
Frederik Andersen didn’t last long in goal for the Leafs. He allowed three goals against on just five shots as the Leafs seemed almost ill-prepared to begin the game. His playoff start Saturday night lasted just 12:13 but the truth was, goaltending was the least of the Maple Leafs troubles Saturday night.
Andersen had little chance to stop Pastrnak’s goal to make it 1-0, when Pastrnak was left all alone in front, basically passed the puck to himself, and then placed the puck behind Andersen.
On the second goal, another Boston power-play goal, Nikita Zaitsev didn’t properly tie up rookie Jake DeBrusk in front of the Toronto goal. DeBrusk deflected a Torey Krug pass up high behind Andersen to make it 2-0.
Zaitsev was a victim on the third goal, when a puck deflected off his skate and went behind Anderson. Coach Mike Babcock pulled Andersen after that. Too bad he couldn’t pull Zaitsev.
Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies