Oh, it’s Patrice Bergeron again. How nice.
I said that to myself a dozen times while watching Game Six. Before we get into who is playing in Game Seven, let’s take a look at how much the Game Six players were on the ice.
Brad Marchand played even more than his centre, so he really was out there all the damn time considering his special teams work.
The Bruins used a one-two punch and filled in with the Nash line (featuring both R. Nash and R. Nash), and didn’t want their fourth line on the ice at all. The Kuraly line played less in the third period than in the first two, as well, while the Bergeron line was used in a very interesting way. They played 10 shifts in each of the first two periods, and nine in the third, but their minutes went up by a lot in the third. They moved to very long shifts. Part of that was the Leafs icing the puck and being hemmed in a little, but a lot of it was coach’s choices.
On defence, Adam McQuaid was benched for the last ten minutes of the game, so Boston played with only five defenders when they were trying to score.
The Leafs largely rolled their lines out but kept Plekanec out against Bergeron as much as possible. Travis Dermott didn’t play much of the third period either. One interesting thing is that William Nylander and Andreas Johnsson had a shift with Auston Matthews after the amazing penalty kill at the end of the game, and Kadri did not play again. That’s part of what’s driving his low minutes.
To put this in context, the Leafs, while winning, used their four fastest offensive wingers with Plekanec and Matthews, barely played their fourth line and rotated Roman Polak onto pairings with Gardiner and Ron Hainsey quite a bit.
The Bruins, while trying to score, leaned on one line very heavily and shortened the defence bench as well. Interestingly, the Bruins cut back on their use of the Nash, Nash and Backes line, which had been their most effective in the game.
One of those schemes is more traditional than the other, even if it ignores the fatigue factor.
On Tuesday, Mike Babcock discussed Leo Komarov, and said he was fully healthy, but he might not be up to jumping in at speed after two games off.
I don’t think the man who is playing Patrick Marleau, Nylander, Mitch Marner and Andreas Johnsson as his wingers of choice while defending a one goal lead is going to put Komarov in.
Boston, on the other hand, chose to remove Danton Heinen from Game Six. He has 47 points in 77 regular-season games. They’ve played Olympic and college phenomenon Ryan Donato, who was better than Johnsson in a short stretch of NHL games, for one game only. They traded for offensive defenceman Nick Holden, who had five points in 18 games for them, and they have also played him for one game only.
For Game Seven, it looks like Heinen is back in instead of Tommy Wingels, another deadline acquisition who scores more like a defenceman than a forward, but Donato and Holden likely aren’t.
Boston went for more grinders on the road. It’s not impossible that Babcock will do the same thing in Boston where his lines will all have more Bergeron time than they want. But what works for the Leafs is scoring, and all the players who do that have been getting the ice time. All but the two expiring UFAs, James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak.
I’m not sure Komarov fits anymore. I think when it’s time for some work-ethic wingers, Babcock now looks to Connor Brown and Zach Hyman. After Plekanec, Hyman played the most of Game Six and Brown was only a minute behind him, and while they were prominent in defending the lead, the fast guys with the hands were there too.
Babcock on Connor Brown's strong effort in Game 6:— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) April 24, 2018
"Well, I thought Brown Cow was unbelievable yesterday. He worked & competed ..."
Haven't heard that nickname before.
If Boston wants to save Donato for their next playoff round, I’m okay with that. I hope it’s next year, though. But that’s the same question Babcock has to ask himself. Does he want to pull Kapanen or Johnsson for Komarov? Or does he want to dance with the ones who won him Game Six?
What would you do?
Would you put Leo Komarov in?
This poll is closed
Yes, for Johnsson
Yes, for Kapanen
Yes, for JvR
Never, just keep the lines that worked.