BOSTON — What’s wrong with this picture?
Frederik Andersen on the end of the bench, Nazem Kadri in the press box and Leo Komarov in sick bay. It doesn’t bode well for the long spring the Maple Leafs had been talking about.
Now Mike Babcock has to quickly repair some damaged confidence as well as compensate for injuries and the Kadri suspension as the Leafs limped home from Boston down 2-0 in a series in which the coach admitted “they’re dominating us.”
Specifically the line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak, 20 points in the series after cutting through Auston Matthews, the rest of the forwards, a leaky Leafs defence and driving Andersen to the bench with three goals on five shots in Saturday’s 7-3 final. Pastrnak had a hat trick.
“I actually thought we got off to a good start and the puck still went in,” Babcock lamented. “Give them credit. Everything they are throwing at the net is going in.
“We’ve got to go home and re-group. That’s our first priority, get out of here, it hasn’t gone the way we wanted. Any way you look at it we’ve given up a dozen goals (losing 5-1 on Thursday). Get some home cooking, get our mind right and come back.
“You spent your whole year working on your confidence. We got 105 points. We’re a good team. We’re not going to talk about it tonight. No one is listening anyway.”
Boston roared to a 4-0 lead, drove Andersen from the game and dismantled Toronto’s penalty kill again. The Leafs got very little from their regular season stars a second straight night, Matthews blanked, the power play dead in the water until James van Riemsdyk’s late goal.
They had better hope their home ice magic doesn’t disappear as well come Monday night or this will be a stunningly short series.
“We have plenty of stuff to go over,” defenceman Ron Hainsey said. “Too much zone time, too many penalties … it wouldn’t be tough to pick one.
“We deserve every bit of criticism far and wide. The good news is, the story is not totally written yet.”
Not that any one Leaf was the cause of Game 2 ruin, but defenceman Nikita Zaitsev was on for all four first period strikes, the Russian getting worse instead of better after his second half slide. Two of the goals were on the power play raising Boston’s total to five so far.
“We have to be better, I have to be better,” Zaitsev said. “This is serious. You’re not allowed to show the other team you’re done. We’re a good team, we have a lot of stuff we didn’t show. It’s not like one game, we have to win four.”
As Babcock grumbled, the Leafs didn’t look much like their regular season selves and by the end, neither did their lines and defensive pairs. Already missing Kadri — watching from the TD Garden loft as his three-game suspension began — Babcock gambled that Patrick Marleau moving to centre with Zach Hyman on his left wing was the best option.
Komarov as Auston Matthews’ new left winger didn’t do much and then Komarov appeared to aggravate his knee injury trying to lay a hard check. He’ll be assessed Sunday. His absence mixed everything up, with Toronto taking dumb penalties throughout to stall its own comeback attempt from the huge hole they dug in the first.
Hyman, who had a Game 1 goal, set up Mitch Marner in the second period, for Toronto’s first goal while Tyler Bozak made it made it 5-2, after Hainsey failed to move the puck on a couple of opportunities that Boston’s big line converted.
Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak were all in on the last two goals, one a fumbled Jake Gardiner handoff with Morgan Rielly at the Toronto blueline. Gardiner smashed his stick over the Toronto net in anger.
“The whole game was frustrating and it built up,” Gardiner said. “They got bounces, we got flat-footed and were out of it early. The big thing is starting on time. Get that back and we’ll be fine.
“Their (big line’s) speed, they play both ways, you’re not going to get a free pass in the offensive zone. They play 200 feet.”
The Leafs did get the first few pucks deep and worked for a chance or two, and even tried to rile Tuukka Rask with a Kasperi Kapanen snow shower. But after three goals, that was it for Andersen, Babcock already saving him for Game 3.
Curtis McElhinney, a strong back-up this year but with no playoff action since 2013 with AHL Springfield, gave up a quick power play goal to Rick Nash, when the Leafs came out of a scrum between Hainsey and Tim Schaller with the extra minor. Hainsey followed Kadri as the latest Leaf to have to stand up for Marner when he got rocked by a hit.
Babcock has Dominic Moore, Josh Leivo or the physical Matt Martin to consider plugging in front after activating Andreas Johnsson to the fourth line due to the Kadri sentence. Connor Carrick is his option on defence.
“All good players receive attention,” Babcock said earlier in the day, commenting on his stars getting blanketed and harassed. “You have to dig in and compete. If you get lots of attention, it’s usually because you’ve done something. You do what do normally, you’ll be fine, but you have to dig in.”
It didn’t work out that way Saturday and now the Leafs have to do it on home ice — or go home for the summer.
Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies