Playoffs – Game 2. They say that nothing goes wrong in the playoffs until you lose a game at home. Advantage: Leafs. After 6 periods of hockey, the Buds return home with a slight edge in the series after splitting Boston. Your Game In 10 is down below.
1) The Leafs are 1-0-1 and this was the first Leafs’ playoff win since April 30th, 2004. Revel in it, Leafs Nation.
2) The game got off to a quick start and the Leafs showed better jump right from the get go. That said, they needed a couple of big saves from Reimer early in the game, the direct result of visiting turnover town. First Phaneuf got hit by Marchand in the corner, resulting in a Bruin chance in the slot, and then King James bailed out Gardiner after a wild pass off the boards wound up on Campbell’s stick.
3) Orr was utilized properly in the first period. He was a constant pain for Zdeno Chara and gave him a couple of good runs. Goliath is vulnerable. Komarov got a couple of good hits in there as well. Does that accumulate and contribute to Chara’s undisciplined penalty late in the third? Better believe it. Toronto outhit Boston 22-10 in the opening frame.
4) Limiting turnovers later in the period and not giving time and space for Bruin forwards to get clean shots off was a big reason of a much improved-looking Leafs team early in the game. Chances were created off the rush, by using speed in quick transitions. Unfortunately, the odd man rushes didn’t end up in a goal due to questionable pass/shot selection (some overpassing in close tonight). The best chance of the period was a post hit by Bozak from the top of the left side circle.
5) The 2nd period started with another good save by Reimer on Seguin. The Bruins followed that up with the opening goal of the hockey game. Horton left the puck for Lucic, the two criss-crossed, No17 got a shot off, and a big rebound with nobody except Horton in front resulted in a Bruins lead. Franson needed to battle harder for inside positioning better. Here we go again? Nope, tonight was different and you could see it in the way the team skated and responded. Lupul tied the game with two seconds left on a Chara minor. Without the Bruin’s big man in front, he was able to fight for space in front of Rask’s crease and tie the game after a smart play from Gardiner to the puck on net. The Leafs started to pile it on and create chances as Kulemin danced around Seidenberg and hit the post with a backhand shot somewhere in that sequence.
6) A fantastic drive by Frattin, who victimized Seidenberg, set up the second Lupul/Leaf goal of the night. Frattin got past the #44 Bruin and put the pass through the crease, all Lupul had to do was deposit it in the empty cage. The Leaf pressure continued with a pileup in front of Rask, as Kessel and co. couldn’t increase the lead even after firing 5-6 consecutive shots on the Finnish netminder, who made some spectacular saves and with some thanks to Bruins shot blockers prevented the Leafs from going two up. The Leafs fired 26 shots on net during the first two periods of play, 6 more than in the entire first game of the series.
7) Ryan Hamilton played a very good game, as did everyone inserted in tonight’s lineup. He backchecked, played smart defensive hockey and contributed to the offense (nice little play between the legs to start the play that led to the Kessel goal). Frattin’s addition made an impact in terms of providing straight line hockey and driving the play forward. Gardiner pretty much did what he does best when he’s on his game. Puck movement, breakouts, zone entries and quality possession plays. We saw improved puck management, resulting in better zone exists and zone entries, by the Leafs in general tonight.
8) With Leafs Nation’s collective heart in their throat at 2-1 in the 3rd period, the Leafs bench identified that Chara was going for a change, Kessel hopped over the boards and within 10 seconds he was on a breakaway to score the eventual game winner. A perfect pass from Kadri after some great defensive effort by Fraser and Hamilton led to Kessel’s first 5 on 5 goal against the Bruins. Rask never stood a chance on the shot and the blue and white bench let everyone know how much Phil meant to them. Kessel wore a grin that would light up Broadway. Wonderful moment for any Leafs fan.
9) To their credit, the Bruins didn’t quit. Johnny Boychuck scored his 2nd playoff goal with a deflected shot to keep the game close. But the Leafs did well to close it out with a little bit of Grabovski to JvR magic. Timely, opportunistic scoring is what the Leafs have thrived on all season and they had it back tonight. The Leafs are coming back to the ACC after their most important victory in the last 9 years. Reimer’s clutch saves (40 total) played a big part in that. So did the physical play. I thought the Leafs legitimately outhit the Bruins tonight and not as a result of their being outpossessed.
10) Credit Carlyle for a great game behind the bench. Every player scratched in Game 1 made a big impact tonight. His line matching gave Claude Julien fits and he’s realizing that this is the kind of team he should be icing. Four capable lines with good balance. One Orr is fine, two is too much. The Leafs may yet end up losing the series, but have shown that they aren’t a pushover. If they are going down, they are going down fighting. More than that, if tonight proved anything it’s that this team certainly deserves the faith of Leafs Nation.