Welcome to the playoffs.
Where anything can happen.
Anybody can win.
And, sometimes, two of your best players can disappear.
Magic. Poof. Gone.
The first two games of the Maple Leafs first-round series vs the Boston Bruins have been a wake-up call. Not only to Leafs Nation who can see how dominant the Bruins can be, it has also shown how stupid Kadri can be, but more importantly, let’s hope this wake-up call reaches the bed-sides of both William Nylander and Morgan Rielly.
When you go back to the tape of game 2, you will see Nikita Zaitsev and Ron Hainsey in the middle of a lot of bad plays. Few of them resulted in goals, which was bound to happen, as those two players are:
- on the ice a lot
- not very good
So, those types of plays, you can shrug off, and say “shit happens.”
But when two of your best players decide to pull the Houdini, against a very strong team, while most of the team isn’t showing up either, it’s going to result in an ass-kicking, and that’s exactly what has happened.
The Pittsburgh Penguins won the cup last year with a mix-and-match defence, and the year before they won it with Kris Letang and a bunch of “nobodies”. No disrespect to them, but Kris Letang was on another level. He had to be.
Morgan Rielly is the Maple Leafs’ Kris Letang. He must be light years better than the rest of his defensive teammates or else the Leafs will not go anywhere this spring but back to the drawing board for next season. He is a number one D-Man in this league, he just needs to be the same player in the playoffs.
Rielly, at times, looks scared to make plays. He’s not carrying the puck as much. He’s not hitting anyone. He’s losing his assignments in front of the net, on the rush, and while the Bruins are cycling. This is a terrible sign for the Maple Leafs, and this needs to change if they want to get on the board in this series.
As for Billy.
‘Bill Ny’ has been buddied up with Auston Matthews for most of the first two games, much like the regular season, and it just hasn’t materialized into much so far this spring. Will it? Yes, we certainly think so, but how is that going to happen?
So far these playoffs, William Nylander is on the board with 4 shots. For the rest of his stats, it’s basically zero, zero, zero, zero, zero. As Sam Mitchell would say “stay home”.
Well, we certainly don’t want Willie to stay home, but it would be nice if he could do the following things in game 3:
- Hit the net
- Enter the zone with more speed on the PP, or pass it cross-ice to Matthews so he can enter with speed
- Power-up on the passion, does anyone have a mushroom for him?
- Don’t float as much, it’s the playoffs, Bill.
- Be the Willie we watched the entire season, who will eventually hit 90 points and can dominate games on his own
The Toronto Maple Leafs had an unreal regular season. Unfortunately, for them, it’s over, and now on the biggest stage of the season, the team has not shown up. William Nylander and Morgan Rielly need to show up for Game 3, or else the Maple Leafs are done.
Another tidbit is Mike Babcock spent the first two games trying to find the perfect matchups….on the road….very hard to do.
On home ice, Babs will be able to play chess a little bit easier, but let’s hope he doesn’t get in the way of himself and cause his team to have too many men on the ice for what feels like the 45th time this season.
Excuse all the negatives, but the first two games of this series were embarrassing for Leafs Nation. The team did not show up, they need to be better, and they must find a way to slow down the top-line of the Bruins.
Is Tomas Plekanec and his shadowing of Patrice Bergeron the answer in Game 3?
For anyone who reads this, let’s collectively hope not.
Let’s hope Bill, Mo, and the rest of the Maple Leafs big guns, are loaded up and ready to take aim and outsmash the Bruins heavy hitters.
Leafs in 7.