2013 NHL Playoffs coverage of the Toronto Maple Leafs from Maple Leafs Hot Stove.
I keep repeating that word in my head. Just letting it marinate until I can chew on it and get it through my system. My body is shaking from emotional exhaustion. This is the adrenaline wearing off, I’m pretty sure.
Seeing Reimer on the ice face-down in despair… crushing.
If you want to look back and find a Game 7 featuring the Leafs, you need to go back to 2004, the last time the Leafs made the playoffs. The Buds emerged victorious in a 4-1 win over Ottawa to wrap up a first-round series win. Really, this game 7, the first against Boston in 57 years, should’ve ended much the same way. Instead, hearts were broken. This is the toughest Game in 10 I’ll ever write.
Strap yourselves in. The biggest Leaf game in nearly a decade is just a few hours away.
Do the Leafs have the momentum, is Boston frustrated, does Boston feel the pressure more, did their delayed flight help them or hurt them? It’s all academic. Come puck drop tonight, this series is reset to a best of one and it comes down to who executes better over the 60 minutes.
We’re going seven.
How many Leafs fans would have gladly accepted a one-game winner takes all scenario for the Leafs at the start of this series?
That’s where Toronto finds itself today.
After such a critical shortage of meaningful moments in the last decade for this hockey club, these last few days have been almost too much, too fast. Last night, the Leafs earned their first playoff home win in 9 years and the city went bonkers. Dion Phaneuf redeemed himself for his role in an OT loss last playoff home game – which at the time could have been the last this season – splatting yolk on the faces of certain media members eager to get an early start on their postmortem scapegoating of the most valuable members of the hockey team. Phil Kessel scored his third of the series in what proved to be the game winner, of which he now has two against the Bruins in this series. Now, there is a less than 24-hour turnaround to get ready for Game 7, the next biggest game for this fanbase since 2004.
My oh my.
Think this was a long time coming? Game 7 baby.
These Leafs will not go quietly. After another hard fought, fast-paced game with excellent goaltending, Toronto eked out a 2-1 win that has forced a seventh game tomorrow night back in Boston. With standout performances from Reimer, Gardiner, et al., the Maple Leafs secured their first win on home ice of this postseason. Hopefully, it won’t be their last.
With their backs against the wall, the Maple Leafs will look to force a seventh game by winning at home for the first time this postseason.
Toronto will undoubtedly play with the desperation they showed for most of Friday night. The difference tonight will be that the Bruins are also starting to feel the pressure. Boston will be throwing everything and the kitchen sink at the Leafs and James Reimer in an effort to close out this series. With the continuing struggles of Seguin and Marchand, the offensive load will likely be carried by the Krejci line.
At the other end of the ice, two feisty Leafs centers in Mikhail Grabovski and Nazem Kadri earnestly want to make a contribution of their own to their team’s success. With the way Grabovski has elevated his game in these playoffs, it should only be a matter of time before the Belorussian finds his name on the scoresheet.
Peter Power/The Globe and Mail
The Leafs are back in Toronto down 3-2 in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series. One more win and it is back to Boston to determine the winner of what has already been an excellent display of hockey.
I want to take a moment to praise Gardiner. Friday night’s game was the best I have ever seen Gardiner play. I noted a while ago that there were many issues plaguing Gardiner’s game that the coaching staff needed to iron out. From missing assignments to giving up strong body position on the walls, or simply not being physically engaged, it was a really rough stretch for Gardiner.
Pierre Lebrun of ESPN.com had an insightful in-depth chat with Wayne Gretzky on the growth of this Maple Leafs team and the work of head coach Randy Carlyle. Below are some worthwhile excerpts:
If you have been following along with my Notebooks since the playoffs started, you’ll know that I’ve continually asked if James Reimer was going to steal the Leafs a game at some point in this series.
Well, he’s officially stolen one.
We’re headed back to Toronto for Game 6. The book isn’t yet closed on this team’s 2013 story as the Leafs continue to prove to their detractors that this season was no 48-game fluke. After three games in which the Leafs looked every bit Boston’s match, early Leaf domination gave way for the James Reimer show as the Leafs finally got the reward for all of their endeavour.
Do or die. Win or go home. Put up or shut up. [List other cliches here].
The Leafs look to keep things interesting in this series and give us all more Leaf playoff hockey to enjoy by extending the series past five games with a win tonight.
The Leafs have a right to feel a little hard done by with this 1-3 series deficit. Point fingers at certain individuals if it’s your thing, but the fact of the matter is that Toronto, despite looking every bit Boston’s match over the last 3 games, has made the crucial mistakes that are costing them games. Boston almost always has capitalized opportunistically.
The Toronto Maple Leafs face playoff elimination tonight, but have dug their heels in against the Boston Bruins and have “done a lot of good things” in the series according to Randy Carlyle. From the perpetually unimpressed man who guided the team to a horrid crash and lottery finish and a playoff berth in less than 82 games, I’d call that high praise.
With the Buds backs against the wall, here’s four thoughts ahead of the biggest game in the longest time.
No matter what happens in the rest of the series, this much is clear: The Leafs have closed the gap on the Boston Bruins.
Are they equal to or better than Boston? Probably not. But compared to where the Leafs were last year against Boston, this is a dramatic improvement.
I remember it like it was last night. An ill-timed pinch, two Bruins streaking out of the zone, and a “dagger” into the heart of Leafs Nation after an overtime in which the Leafs carried the play. This one is going to take some time to digest. Although the boys battled their tails off, and went toe-to-toe with one of the favourites in the East, some mistakes and puck misfortune ultimately sealed the Leafs’ fate after starting 2-0 up in a brilliant first period.
Photo: The Canadian Press
Toronto Maple Leafs came out strong, but ultimately fell to the Boston Bruins 4 – 3 in overtime of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarter Finals. The Leafs had no answer for David Krejci, who scored a hat trick to steal the victory from the Buds. The battle of Vezina snubs didn’t disappoint either, with James Reimer making 41 saves in the loss and Tuukka Rask again stopping a phenomenal 45 shots tonight.
Photo: Maple Leafs Hot Stove
Toronto looks for their 1st win on home ice in this series (and in 9 years) and you can expect that they will be a little less tight in the 1st period than they were in their 1st playoff game at the ACC on Monday night. Toronto has been getting progressively better during the series and looks to be the match of Boston if they play their system and don’t gift them goals like did the entire game on Monday.
Alright ladies and gentlemen, it’s down to this. The stakes are high as the Leafs have lost their home-ice advantage after a 5-2 Game 3 loss, and if the they lose tonight we might not see them on ACC ice until next season.
As I’m writing this, I’m currently watching the Vancouver / San Jose game – it’s the 3rd period and the Canucks have just taken a one-goal lead. As much as I dislike the organization and the fan-base that cheers for them, it’s impressive how Vancouver continues to throw themselves with abandon in front of pucks, along the boards, and sacrificing their body to make a play. I just hope that the Leafs have that sense of desperation for the rest of the series against Boston.
But… as Bieska and Sedin just showed, the Leafs need to be careful as well.
For the Leafs to win, they need to do the following:
If the story of game 2 was the Leafs’ excellent line-matching and the great performances from their stars, the story of game 3 was the Leafs shooting themselves in the foot.
The simple fact of the matter is that when you make the mistakes the Leafs did, you are rarely going to win a playoff game.
Alec already went through all of the goals against this morning so I’m not going bother doing that again. Plus, I think we all know what happened. Other than the first goal, which was the result of a lost faceoff and unfortunate bounce, the Leafs gift wrapped Boston three other goals with giveaways and poor defense.
The chances the Leafs have at beating Boston after spotting them three easy goals have to be slim to none.
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