MLHS’ Alec Brownscombe discussed Game 1 of the Leafs vs. Bruins series, looked ahead to Game 2, and discussed the Nazem Kadri suspension on Battle of the Atlantic on TSN1200 on Saturday.
You can listen to the full show here.
Alec on how good the Boston Bruins looked in Game 1:
They looked really good. But you’d expect that in Game 1 from an elite team at home. The Leafs did not respond like they needed to.
I think it was a comforting narrative for Leafs fans to think this series was going to have a similar makeup and dynamic to the Vegas and LA series… one team deeper and faster, the other team kind of the heavier veteran team that’s slower but well structured defensively.
I still think the Leafs are quicker and just as deep if not deeper when they’re on their game – and don’t have their matchup center suspended — but Boston is far more dangerous team in transition now than they used to be. And they play with pace.
The top line speaks for itself, but guys like Heinen and Debrusk have given them a real nice shot in the arm. Strong, fast kids with some size and good skills. Rick Nash looks really motivated. Backes looked pretty good.
I think we saw everything that makes Boston scary. They control games territorially. They were able to win the lion’s share of the board and puck battles and then their skill took over. The Leafs were second on pucks and looked slow and unskilled. Boston kept the pedal to the metal and defended by playing the exact same way as when they’re trailing or tied and they padded the lead.
It’s a little disappointing that guys like Nylander and Matthews and a bunch of others didn’t seem to be ready for what was about to happen considering they did go through this last year. They can’t stick check their way around the rink in the playoffs. They’re going to have to get stuck in and get their hands dirty… I expect them to respond to what was a pretty embarrassing showing in that matchup in Game 1.
Alec on the positives for the Leafs and whether they can bounce back:
Yeah, the power play looked great even though it didn’t cash in. There are some small adjustments to make there but they had all the zone time in the world and lots of shots and second and third opportunities that wouldn’t fall for them.
The Leafs were fine after 1, after 1.5 and even fine after 2 at 3-1. They weren’t getting blown out of the building or anything at that point. But they just unravelled and lost their composure.
The biggest reason to believe they’ll bounce back is that there is no chance Matthews is okay with how he played in that game…. Matthews will will that line into it on his own, I’d think.
… It goes without saying the Leafs are going to have to manufacture way more zone time and keep that Bergeron/Marchand line defending in its own end more. The Leafs are just too big of a mess in the defensive zone to be able to handle how they work the puck in the offensive zone and move off of the puck in the offensive zone… how well they protect it, work it around and rotate — it will cause the Leafs tons of headaches in their defensive sortouts and handoffs. It cost them on that Pastrnak goal. It will continue to cost them if they don’t tilt the ice more in their favour.
Alec on the three-game Kadri suspension:
You can condemn the hit and not like the suspension length.
I think 3 games is ridiculous. Compare it to Marchand’s egregious elblow to the head on Johansson earlier in the season.
Marchand’s a repeat offender obviously. That elbow on Johansson was a blatant attempt to injure with the head as the point of contact after the whistle. Johansson hasn’t played since. Played 29 games this year. Marchand gets five games. Just five. To me, three playoff games is a huge suspension — it’s like six or seven regular season games.
How is what Kadri did worse than what Marchand did?
… I am not condoning what Kadri did. That intent of leaving the feet at a vulnerable player is brutal.
These decisions don’t happen in a vacuum.
There is the Tom Wilson hit in the same night that goes unpunished. There is that Thornton hit that concussed Oshie making the rounds which was essentially the identical scenario to Kadri’s, except instead of Kadri going up and over and just glancing off of the guy, Thornton plows the head directly into the boards with his ass.
So long as Thornton gets nothing for that because he’s Thornton, and Kadri gets three playoff games for a lesser offense, don’t tell me we’re making progress on player safety and eliminating head shots from the game.
… And don’t tell me that that department of player safety is anything more than just an arm of the NHL’s PR department that doles out punishment based on the public outcry and the need to respond in order seem like they’re serious about eliminating head shots from the game. They’re not.
Thornton on Oshie is an easy one for the league to ignore, because it’s a star player in Thornton and it’s a San Jose vs. Washington game and it didn’t generate the same level of hysteria this Kadri hit did, with huge swaths of media are already discussing what the length of the suspension is going to be before the game is even over.
… These things just build on themselves. Kadri has definitely put himself in tough spots over the years – he was an immature player at times who could let emotions get the better of him.
I also have no doubt that he’s been unfairly maligned at times because he’s now got this history the league can point to…. Funny though, when you let certain guys get away with things because of who they are, where the game is played, and how the public is reacting, they magically don’t have this history that then mandates disciplinary action and longer suspensions. Funny how that works, eh?