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Maple Leafs can’t solve the puzzle of the Boston Bruins, lose 3-2

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The Leafs brought their A game, the Bruins really didn’t, but Rask made up the difference for them.

Boston Bruins v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Boston! Oh no!

For the last time before the playoffs, the Leafs face the Bruins. I assume it will be dire, and you’re all hiding under your beds.

First Period

Um. David Pastrnak to Brad Marchand, the net’s wide open, and ... no goal. Somehow.

Nikita Zaitsev with a slapper is the first save for Tuukka Rask, and he had to knock it out of play bodily.

A good Kadri play leeds to Rask’s second save, and it’s six minutes in.

So weird. The Bruins won the faceoff, but the Leafs recovered the puck and moved up ice. Could it be that faceoff wins—no, that’s just silly. Faceoffs are really important.

The Nazem Kadri line have a long stretch of offensive pressure, yet every shot taken from all three of them is a bad shot. They’re hacking at it with no plan, just punting it at Rask, who gives up rebounds, but no one ever makes a dangerous play. This has been my impression of Kadri and any set of wingers all year. And I’m annoyed about it, so I might be reading in a little. It’s in the right end of the rink, though.

Okay, second go at the Kadri line pressure is way better, and Nylander dances in with a real chance. They should have the biggest mismatch in skill vs the Booooins, and need to turn that into some goals.

Morgan Rielly plays winger for John Tavares and Mitch Marner, and they get some chances.

Sigh.

Leafs dominating, controlling the play, and who scores?

1-0 Bruins.

Absolutely perfect screen on that shot. One iota more aggressive and it’s interference.

Tavares takes a hooking penalty with 21 seconds left.

Numbers

moneypuck.com

That says Marleau and Kadri had what added up to good chances, so maybe my eye-test isn’t very trustworthy right now. They sure worked hard.

Thoughts

  • First half of the period was failed passes and turnovers. Second half saw better puck control.
  • Leafs dominated by shot quality and quantity.
  • Please tell me the Leafs aren’t about to get Rasked.
  • No, really, tell me this won’t be that Tampa game all over again.

Second Period

After a pregame that was all about the greatest power player ever with Torey Krug, the rover, and now a repeat from Jim Hughson, Krug loses control of the puck and gives up a shorty chance to Marner.

Johnsson with the penalty, and now it’s the Bruins super fantastic power play that is so much better than the Leafs power play, and Krug is a rover, did you know?

Hutchinson with a hell of a save after he’s way, way out of position. He is not a guy who plays deep in the crease, that’s for sure.

Krug does his rover thing, and the Bruins lose control of the puck again. No score from this power play.

Whoooo Hoooooo Rask lets one wander in between his feet.

We’re all tied up!

Johnsson with the goal, it seems. Remember when he was bad at the start of the year? He got better, but no way Nylander will. He’ll just be terrible forever.

Nylander draws a penalty, and the Leafs go to the power play, where they have no rover, and therefore will fail.

Marner scores!!! He didn’t rove, though, so I don’t know how that happened.

2-1 Leafs.

Sigh. Again.

The Bruins work the puck loose and score it.

This is a much less exciting All tied up.

The Boooins pop it over the glass after Marner outraces the puck to prevent an icing call. Leafs to their rover-less power play again, but no dice on this one.

Marner roars up the ice, passes to Tavares, who is sitting down, who gives it off to ... Frederik Gauthier? Not how that’s usually drawn up.

Period two looked like it was going to end with a tie game, but Pastrnak comes off the bench on a Leafs change/dump in. Not a good Gardiner/Zaitsev game.

3-2 Bruins.

Numbers

I felt like I was seeing Igor Ozhiganov and Travis Dermott a lot this game, and I was right this time. Dermott leads all players with 13:04 in five-on-five ice time, and Ozhiganov is second with 11:19. Ron Hainsey played less than nine minutes, which makes a little sense, since he PK’d a lot. I have never seen a game where Ozhiganov played this much, but he’s been good, so fair enough.

Thoughts

  • That Pastrnak goal was a classic of the genre: We feel like this period is over, so we’re not really focused.
  • The Leafs new power play units seem to work fine.
  • If it were tied, I’d say fair enough, the Bruins played the Leafs about even that period.
  • This game is freaking annoying right now.

Third Period

Whoa. Huge save from Hutchinson on his own huger rebound.

If you paid any attention to the last recap where I played with probabilities, you might be interested to know the Moneypuck probability for the Bruins to win is only 78.6 per cent right now. There’s two main reasons: the Leafs are the home team, and the Leafs are the better team in this game.

The game has turned into a forechecking contest, since all the Bruins have to do it win at that for 10 minutes and they win the game. Even if they lose sometimes, they’re still likely to win.

Or put another way: There’s nothing more tedious than a good defensive team with a one-goal lead.

The Leafs are pressing, pressing, and Matthews misses on a great chance.

If anyone tells you the Leafs didn’t give it everything they have in this game, tell them they’re liars. Goes, for you, Mike Babcock. Goes double.

The net is empty and the pressure intensifies. Dermott on the ice here.

Leafs lose the plot in front of their own empty net, but they regain control.

Bruins have no counter, they’re just holding on, but it’s all they need to do. Leafs cycle, but don’t get a good chance, and that’s the game. Bruins win.

Numbers

Most of the Dermott ice time came with the Kadri line. This seems to have been an intentional plan off the drop to play that third pair with the third line. As the third period wore on, Ozhiganov dropped down, and Gardiner and Rielly played more.

Thoughts

  • Maybe don’t make the theme of your entire broadcast the bad power play vs the good one if you don’t have the faintest idea how randomness or regression works or how you measure a good power play.
  • Combined plus/minus got an airing in this period. There’s no excuse for that.
  • Maybe the Dermott show tonight was a simple case of deciding if he’s got it or not. And if not, then maybe there will be a trade to add a defender. I thought he was good in this game, but lately I’ve been a bit dubious about him anywhere but north of the redline. Perhaps he was challenged to bring it tonight. He did, and he finished the night with the most five-on-five minutes on the team.