Leafs get what they deserve in Game 3 against Panthers
#Leafs #deserve #Recreation #Panthers
SUNRISE, Fla.—Because the crowded elevator descended, Kyle Dubas and Jason Spezza and Brandon Pridham stared straight forward and no person spoke. You would hear followers howl by the closed doorways, echoes and shut on the similar time: a jubilant “Let’s Go Panthers” on one flooring, a whooping howl of happiness on one other. The elevator saved taking place.
Within the first must-win sport of this whole season for the Maple Leafs the part elements and philosophy of this franchise failed. Sure, Toronto misplaced the beginning goalie to damage. Sure, a Panthers objective bounced off a butt. Issues occur.
However within the greatest sport of the season, Toronto’s greatest gamers weren’t simply not ok. They didn’t get unfortunate; they have been outplayed. Greater than something Dubas’s workforce is constructed round Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares and William Nylander — in wage construction, in idea. Morgan Rielly, too. However his job isn’t precisely to attain.
And within the first must-win sport this workforce has really performed this yr, Toronto’s greatest gamers couldn’t ship. The Leafs lost 3-2 in overtime and path the Florida Panthers 3-0 within the collection. Of all of the video games this yr, this was the sport the Leafs really needed to get. They didn’t.
“We’ve obtained to get a win,” stated Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe. “You take a look at it, at present was the true stress sport. The following sport, simply exit and play. Gotta get a win.”
At this time was the true stress sport. The big four’s tally: seven photographs on objective, 14 makes an attempt, one Nylander help on an attractive play that led to an Erik Gustafsson lucky-bounce objective, one Matthews crossbar 20 seconds into the sport, a reasonably good third interval that amounted to nothing.
Generally in hockey the outcomes don’t match the way you performed, however right here they did. These 4 had three photographs on objective after two intervals, on six makes an attempt. The Matthews-Marner line spent a lot of the primary two intervals in their very own finish. Toronto scored within the first 2:26, however Marner virtually single-handedly reversed the early Leafs momentum by skating the puck into hassle in his personal finish, after which once more. He was bafflingly ineffective.
“Clearly you’ve obtained to offer credit score to Florida; they performed him arduous,” stated Keefe. “Mitch is a good participant, he’s been an amazing participant, he’s working on the market, he’s making an attempt. At this time was a unique sport than the opposite two. Not lots of offence obtainable actually on the market for both workforce. We didn’t get the abundance of seems that we did the opposite evening, so it was robust to get any type of rhythm. Once more, no energy performs makes it extra just a little more difficult.
“However you recognize, it’s a workforce sport and we’d like all people to discover a solution to break by right here.”
They do. Forwards don’t play alone, and the pair of T.J. Brodie and Jake McCabe particularly struggled. McCabe misplaced Anthony Duclair on a stretch cross on Florida’s first objective, and Brodie misplaced Sam Reinhart on the additional time objective. The Panthers forecheck was a ache once more. It’s a workforce sport. Certain.
“The whole lot’s type of linked all through the ice, and you recognize, simply perhaps we have been just a bit bit disconnected at occasions coming by our finish into the impartial zone, the offensive zone,” stated Matthews.
No one on the Leafs aspect stated it, however Florida dominated Toronto’s greatest. The scoring possibilities have been 18-4 for the Panthers with Marner on the ice, 18-7 with Matthews on the ice. It was simply 11-8 with Tavares, and Toronto gained the scoring probability battle 14-4 with Nylander on the market. Aleksander Barkov’s line was significantly efficient in opposition to Matthews and Marner.
So sure, Nylander had his moments. The third interval was higher. Possibly they’re harm. You all the time have to think about the chance that they’re harm. However the first-round win over Tampa was powered by these guys, and in the one must-win sport of this whole pressure-packed season thus far — a season the place the general manager doesn’t have a contract and, even after profitable a playoff spherical for the primary time in 19 years, isn’t assured one other — they weren’t even excellent.
“This sport might have gone both approach right here tonight,” stated Keefe. “Clearly some missed alternative for us right here similar to Recreation 2, missed alternative. These issues add up, and now you don’t have any margin for error.”
Nope. The Leafs squandered it with dangerous habits in Recreation 1, and a Recreation 2 the place Toronto’s stars might have scored however didn’t. That isn’t nice, however you may perceive. As Florida coach Paul Maurice stated of how his workforce had saved all of Toronto’s high 4 off the scoresheet within the collection: “Bobrovsky.”
However this sport wasn’t the Sergei present, and now the Leafs will spend two days telling themselves they should win one sport, and it’s true. The Panthers have gained six video games in a row in opposition to the Boston Bruins and the Leafs, they usually’re not simple. However it’s important to give your self your greatest probability, and that begins together with your greatest gamers. It has to.
It’s not unreasonable to ask Toronto’s stars to do that. Matthews gained the Hart final yr within the period of Connor McDavid, and even in an injury-muted yr he managed play and scored as many targets as Matthew Tkachuk, doubtless Hart candidate. Marner is a Selke candidate and a fabulous participant, a genius. Tavares’s numbers have been pumped up by his power-play manufacturing this yr, and Toronto didn’t get an influence play Sunday. Nylander, at the least, created a objective and was good.
However now the Leafs have let the collection slip virtually all the way in which away, and also you begin to surprise how a lot getting swept by a 92-point eighth seed would erase the achievement of topping Tampa Bay. The Leafs are taking place, with chants from this goofy edge-of-the-Everglades franchise ringing of their ears, and all they’ve left is to attempt to cease the descent. Recreation 4 is Wednesday. They’ll have numerous time to suppose.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
doesn’t endorse these opinions.