10 things that stood out to me in the Leafs Game 4 loss to the Bruins
Edition # 2: Here are 10 things that stood out to me in the Leafs Game 4 loss to the Bruins last night.
1) Off-season priority number one: Gardiner and Rielly aside, the level of play from the Leafs’ defense just wasn’t good enough to compete in the playoffs. Two horrendous pinches cost the Leafs tonight; you just can’t have that sort of instability on the backend during the postseason and expect to win. Interesting to see what Shanny and the rest of the Leafs front office have planned in the blueprints for the off-season.
2) Thanks again, John Ferguson Jr.. The Tukka Rask for Andrew Raycroft trade continues to haunt Leafs fans. Tukka Rask stole that game for the Bruins. The Leafs were the better team for the entire game – minus a short stretch at the end of the second and beginning of the third. Andrew Raycroft, by the way, works in the media now. :)
3) That being said, we need more. The Leafs need more out of Auston Matthews and William Nylander. Nylander, specifically, as talented as he is, looked invisible at times during the series. The skilled forward has to stick to his game. Engaging physically won’t help the small Swede. Matthews has another gear that we have yet to see these playoffs. Hopefully the brink of elimination brings that out of him.
4) Magic Marleau. The more playoffs games that we play, the more impressive Patrick Marleau becomes. The veteran forward was brought in to be a leader on this young Leafs team, but his effective play on the ice has been a nice added bonus. Simply put, no matter who the former San Jose Shark plays with, he makes better.
5) I’m jealous of Charlie McAvoy. The kid is 20 years old. That’s ridiculous. He seems to be everywhere, making plays no 20-year-old defenseman should make. Can’t wait until the Bruins inevitably trade him once he has to sign a contract.
6) Resign Tomas Plekanec. I’m completely kidding, though the former Montreal Canadien (it pains me to use that pronoun) looked outstanding in Game 4, building off his solid Game 3 performance. With the team’s opening goal, I thought tonight was his best game as a Maple Leaf despite the loss.
7) There’s no way they were the same players. How much did you notice the JVR – Bozak – Brown line tonight? In what could have been, and I hate to say it, their last games at the ACC as members of the Maple Leafs, Tyler Bozak and James Van Riemsdyk were invisible. That sense of urgency that made them so dangerous in Game 3 disappeared; they looked like completely different players.
8) Speaking of alter egos, where did Nikita Zaitsev go? This is not the same defenseman the Leafs had in the first three quarters of last season before he went do with a concussion. His decision making used to be so sound, but now he looks lost in his own zown – Roman Polak-esque. This could be a rough contract for the Maple Leafs if Zaitsev doesn’t return to the player that warranted this 7-year deal last season.
9) Welcome back Naz. Nazem Kadri will slot back into the lineup for Game 5. Music to the ears of Leafs fans because as good as Plekanec has been of late, he’s no Kadri. Look for Naz to come out with a vengeance in his usual spot alongside Marleau and Marner
10) Time to dig in. It’s due or die Leafs nation. Let’s do this.