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All Tyler all the time: a new hero emerges in game three

Another overtime, another big damn hero.

Washington Capitals v Toronto Maple Leafs - Game Three

Tyler Bozak is 31 years old and has played eight NHL seasons. He’s scored two playoff goals.

The first one was then:

This was game five of the 2013 first round. So many things are remarkable about this event: Bozak was playing on the PK, his hair, Tyler Seguin was a Bruin, Bozak’s hair, his not very great wheels on the breakaway were still enough, his hair, and he definitely has more finish than Zach Hyman.

Late in that game, Bozak was injured in some way and he missed the rest of the playoffs. Until last night, that was his only playoff goal. He might be a veteran, he might have 125 regular season goals, but he had fewer playoff goals than Kasperi Kapanen.

Until last night.

Back in 2013, when he missed those two games, he was replaced as the 1C by Nazem Kadri. Joe Colborne came into the lineup to take Kadri’s spot. PPP fans were happy. So were a lot of other Leafs fans. They didn’t want Bozak as 1C, they wanted him gone. When he was signed to an extension that summer, the summer of despair, he became linked with the truly, madly, deeply bad contract for David Clarkson.

Now, a few years of losing later, Bozak looks only a little bit overpaid, and is having the best year of his career.

That scene of joyous embrace between the two centres that the fans and the press made into rivals is so fitting. Each is in their own rightful place this year, and no one has doubts about who the 1C is.

Everyone has a job they are capable of doing, so Bozak isn’t trying to play PK, he’s on the PP where he belongs! Hyman might not have his finish but he gets a lot more minute-eating breakaways on the PK. Kadri is playing the hard minutes at centre and the PP, and if you put 43 with 42 on the PP, magic can happen.

And now Bozak has as many playoff goals as Kasperi Kapanen. (And better hair.)