New NHL playoff round. Exact Same Toronto Maple Leafs?
There was a specific air of recognition Tuesday when the Leafs dropped Video Game 1 of their Eastern Conference second-round series 4-2 to the Florida Panthers Toronto had actually simply liquidated Tampa Bay in Video Game 6 of their first-round match to lastly advance in an NHL postseason for the very first time because 2004, a two-decade stretch that consisted of 6 successive first-round exits (and 11 straight previous losses in possible removal video games).
The Leafs didn’t begin that Lightning series on a high note. In reality, they were downright humiliated on house ice, losing Video game 1 7-3. That outcome alone sufficed to generate groans of “here we go once again” from fans and media alike who had actually seen appealing Toronto groups of the previous wilt under the pressure of postseason expectations.
There was more of that to walk around in the opening of the 2nd round.
The Panthers whipped into Toronto on a heating unit, an 8-seed Cinderella group that had actually simply dismissed the No. 1-ranked, President’s Trophy-winning Boston Bruins in an extraordinary– and unpredicted by the majority of– first-round upset. Florida pounded its method to a 2-0 lead in Video game 1 versus Toronto, wasn’t rattled when the Leafs rallied at 2-2 and was opportunistic in taking control of the series from there.
The Panthers have fun with desert. They’re quick, tough and loaded with an energy that the notoriously business-wear-clad crowd at Scotiabank Arena may discover undesirable. And Florida beat the Leafs on their grass– and at their own video game– to put Toronto right back where it was to open the preliminary: down 1-0, and now doing not have home-ice benefit.
What all failed for the Leafs in Video game 1? And how anxious should Toronto have to do with dealing with– and eventually getting rid of– those obstructions to avoid the Panthers from managing another unexpected series triumph?
Let’s break out the very first panic meter of the playoffs to dissect where the Leafs stumbled and how precisely they can prosper once again.
Difficulty with Tkachuk
Issue: Matthew Tkachuk is controling all over the ice
Panic meter reading: 9/10
The Leafs should be seeing a great deal of Matthew Tkachuk on video, since Florida’s top-notch forward was on Toronto like a swarm of bees in Video game 1.
Tkachuk’s line with Sam Bennett and Nick Cousins is becoming a playoff powerhouse, which held true Tuesday. At even strength, Tkachuk was on the ice for 26 of the Panthers’ shot tries to just 8 versus. His system managed 75% of anticipated objectives.
Shots on objective with Tkachuk provide? 13-5. Scoring possibilities? 11-4. It’s no shock Tkachuk & & Co. outshone John Tavares and Mitchell Marner in their match. Tkachuk hung right around Marner to establish a rebound objective by Cousins to open the Video game 1 scoring after the Leafs’ blown possibilities to do it themselves.
Which’s not all Tkachuk achieved.
He filched 3 helps on the night and paced all skaters with 9 hits. By contrast, Marner, Calle Jarnkrok, Auston Matthews, Michael Bunting and William Nylander integrated for 6 hits. In general, Toronto could not match what the Tkachuk line was bringing whether in speed or physicality. A minimum of not till coach Sheldon Keefe returned to the drawing board.
By the 2nd duration, Keefe had actually reunited Marner on a line with Matthews– dropping Nylander onto Tavares’ wing– to attempt dealing with Tkachuk together. That mix may have slowed Tkachuk however definitely didn’t shut him down. Tkachuk still goaded Leafs’ defenseman Jake McCabe into taking a charge late in the 3rd duration– making McCabe relatively so concentrated on crunching Tkachuk into the boards he did so about 200 feet from his own internet– which put the Panthers at a benefit when Brandon Montour scored their 4th insurance coverage objective with less than 8 minutes to play.
Tkachuk exhibits all that Florida succeeded to keep Toronto off course: He’s quick, strong and noticeably competent. That mix was as powerful for the Panthers in Video game 1 as it showed to be drowning the Bruins. Include an unrelenting forecheck that left little to no breathing space through the neutral zone and it’s simple to identify why Toronto was often stymied.
Tkachuk isn’t disappearing, either. Keefe didn’t reveal his hand on lineup modifications after Wednesday’s practice however did confess he would not eliminate putting Marner on Matthews’ wing once again to begin Video game 2.
” How we handle the matches belongs to it,” Keefe stated. “We invested the early morning here more so going through the video and talking through things as a personnel, and we’ll carry on to some arguments about the lines and things, and we’ll arrange through that. We’ll most likely go back and forth a lot prior to tomorrow.”
Helpless power play
Issue: Leafs go 0-for-4 on the male benefit
Panic meter reading: 6/10
Toronto had a wonderful opportunity to catch the Panthers. It ended up rolling over.
The Leafs made 2 power plays in the very first 4:46 of Video game 1, when Bennett and Gustav Forsling took back-to-back charges. Toronto created a couple fine searches Florida netminder Sergei Bobrovsky however got absolutely nothing previous him. A possibly tone-setting start fizzled, knocking the wind right out of Toronto’s sails.
” The power play requires to come through,” Keefe stated Wednesday. “You get 2 chances to score early in the video game like we did, that’s a huge distinction. Not just since we’re [eventually] down an objective entering into the 3rd duration, however you’re going after the video game versus us leaving to an excellent start early and whatever sort of settles in from there. Since we were chasing it, it’s more difficult to handle their finest gamers the manner in which we required to win.”
Poor power-play production is quickly ending up being a pattern for Toronto. The Leafs were 6-for-14 with the additional male through their very first 4 video games versus Tampa Bay; that degraded to 0-for-4 in their last 2 video games. It’s a little sample– even including the most current Video game 1 overall– however a playoff series is brief and sweet for a factor. Every component of what a group does (or stops working to do) ends up being magnified.
Florida’s charge kill hasn’t been a juggernaut in the postseason either (64.5%), that makes the Leafs’ failure to capitalize versus all of it the more bewildering. Provided how little open ice Toronto needed to deal with total in Video game 1, those male benefit minutes are crucial. The Leafs can’t pay for another night showing up empty on unique groups.
One method to prevent that is breaking the code on Bobrovsky.
Issue: A rejuvenated Sergei Bobrovsky is revealing Vezina Trophy-winning type
Panic meter reading: 5.5/ 10
Bobrovsky is back on the case in a huge method.
Florida’s $10 million-per-year netminder suffered through a ruthless start to the routine season that put him at 8-12-1 with an.894 save portion and 3.32 goals-against average on Jan. 1. Bobrovsky battled from there to a much better surface (16-8-2,.907% and 2.86 GAA) just to fall ill in late March and see Alex Lyon take control of the crease.
Well, Lyon had a hard time strongly in the preliminary versus Boston, and Bobrovsky went back to the starter’s function in Video game 4 of that series. He and the Panthers have not recalled. The two-time Vezina Prize winner gets more powerful in every getaway, and Bobrovsky placed on his finest playoff efficiency to date in Video game 1 with a 36-save effort. That likewise significant Bobrovsky’s 4th straight win, making it his longest stretch of successive triumphes all season.
That’s possibly problem for the Leafs.
Bobrovsky might simply be striking his stride now, sustained by his individual ups and downs and the basic underdog story Florida is wielding to excellence. Toronto has actually been choked up in previous playoff series by magnificent goaltending ( Andrei Vasilevskiy did it in Video game 7 in 2015 and Video game 5 this time around) and is seeing residues of it once again now from Bobrovsky. It’s likewise possible Bobrovsky will fall back in the face of Toronto’s (prepared for) modifications.
What the Leafs ultimately succeeded in the preliminary was develop havoc around Vasilevskiy and remove his eyes. It’s much easier stated than done, obviously, to make a goalie uneasy– especially when Florida is physical boxing out around the internet. Still, that’s the job waiting for Toronto in Video game 2 (and beyond). In order to beat Bobrovsky, the Leafs should guarantee there’s very little to see in front of him.
Issue: Toronto made a lot of unforced mistakes in Video game 1
Panic meter reading: 4/10
Toronto need refrain from doing its spotting challenger any favors. And yet, the Leafs could not assist spending some expensive plays in the series opener.
Take TJ Brodie‘s pinch spoiled that enabled Carter Verhaeghe— a 40-goal scorer in the routine season– to run complimentary on a second-period breakaway. Boom. All of a sudden it was 3-2, after Toronto had actually simply resisted from a 2-2 hole to connect the video game. That can’t occur.
” We offer a breakaway to the one man we absolutely do not wish to offer a breakaway to,” Keefe stated after the video game. “We can not make that error when it’s 2-2. That’s a hard one.”
It wasn’t the Leafs’ only regrettable miscue. Toronto was credited with 12 free gifts on the night– to Florida’s 10– and some were particularly glaring (cross-ice pass efforts obstructed in front of the Leafs’ own internet). The neutral zone was a fight ground throughout Video game 1, and it was Toronto frequently on the losing end.
” I believed we made errors,” Keefe stated. “Credit to Florida, since of how they play, they require you to make errors. However I believed we made some errors tonight that we didn’t make in the last series. … When you slip up, the healing time, it’s not truly there. I believe that captured us. I believe our people will get used to that.”
Leafs’ defenseman Luke Schenn concurred with Keefe’s evaluation, and acknowledged Toronto would need to tidy up its own bad routines to possibly begin exposing more of Florida’s.
” A great deal of the objectives that were scored were based off self-inflicted [problems],” Schenn stated. “We have a lot more to offer. They’re a physical lot. They’re heavy on the forecheck. In the previous everybody idea of them as being lethal off the rush, however they have some huge bodies out there. Like any playoff series, I anticipate it to get a little bit more physical as we go here. That’s anticipated.”
Presuming Toronto has actually determined its concerns, fortunately is they can be gotten rid of. In playoff hockey, it’s adjust or pass away. Florida is the ideal example of that. Toronto likewise revealed its durability recovering from that Video game 1 flub versus Tampa Bay to win 3 of the next 4 and advance.
There’s no factor the Leafs can’t do the very same things now, a minimum of when it pertains to preventing these errors.
Searching for star surface
Issue: Florida (primarily) blanks Toronto’s leading scorers
Panic meter reading: 3/10
What the Leafs’ core did not have in Video game 1 strikes it offseted in shots.
Nylander led the group with 7. Matthews put 6 on internet. Tavares had 5. The only one of those 3 who came away with a point, however, was Matthews, who had an excellent setup on Matthew Knies‘ charm of an objective (the novice’s very first in the NHL).
Toronto’s other scorer was Bunting. No disrespect to either him or Knies, however if the Leafs are going to match the Panthers’ production, they’ll require those previously mentioned star gamers to complete.
Florida’s finest gamers were their most impactful ones in Video game 1. Beyond Tkachuk’s 3 assistants and objectives from Bennett, Cousins and Verhaeghe, the Panthers were improved by the continued quality of Montour. Florida’s leading blueliner is having a career-best season that includes his 6th playoff objective in 8 video games– connected for 3rd most ever by a defenseman because long a stretch– to ice the Panthers’ win.
Florida understands how to decrease a group’s top-flight skills, too. In its series versus Boston– in which Florida fell back in 3-1– the Bruins had several objectives from Taylor Hall (4 ), Jake DeBrusk (3 ), Brad Marchand (3 ), Tyler Bertuzzi (2) and David Pastrnak (2) through the very first 4 matches.
In the last 3? Pastrnak (3) and Bertuzzi (3) were the only Bruins with several objectives.
The Leafs’ low star wattage is more than likely a one-and-done circumstance, however. All of it comes cycle on finding methods to challenge Bobrovsky and take advantage of missed out on possibilities (see: the power play). None of Matthews, Marner or Tavares scored in the Leafs’ very first video game versus Tampa Bay either, and all 3 rebounded with outstanding– and prompt– offending contributions the rest of Toronto’s method.
That’s one favorable pattern the Leafs need to have the ability to depend on continuing, as their long-awaited second-round experience rolls on.