Saturday, May 22, 2021

Game one: Leafs vs Habs (Posgate Postgame?)

 First Period

The first goal the Habs scored came three shifts after the Leaf captain left the ice on a stretcher. Jack Campbell made the poor decision to leave his net and sweep away a broken stick at the same moment the Leafs turned over the puck in the offensive zone. (Caused by a bad bounce off a Habs player’s foot) Anderson happened to to have momentum in the right direction out of their zone that allowed him to get a jump on both Leaf defensemen (who were caught flat footed as the saying goes) and ultimately score on a breakaway. Had Campbell left the stick it would have impeded Anderson’s breakaway and would not have been rushing to get back into his crease. 

I wondered and I am pretty sure that coach Keefe did too, why was the accidental knee to the head was not a penalty? Intent is not what makes a trip a trip or a slash a slash. It is the action that you are penalized for. 

Of course the Leafs were still shaken emotionally at this point. Tavares had played a solid first period with his line having a fair bit of jump. Matthews, Marner and Hyman also looked good, testing Price on a few occasions. A few good shots to the top corner that Price had to get his shoulder on and Hyman just missed putting it upstairs. 

Our third line looked ok. Riley Nash had himself on a short leash and only once was on the ice for longer than 30 seconds. Simmonds could certainly have increased his physical presence and will certainly have to do so moving forward in the series. 

The old guys on the fourth line were a bit slow to get going. They got the puck into the Habs zone but failed at keeping it there even once until near the end of the period where they kept some pressure on, in the offensive zone. Thornton also had a decent shift wreaking havoc in front of the net on the power play just before time expired in the first period. 

Defense looked solid. No giveaways. No unnecessary pinching. Occasional offensive bursts but solid in our own end including good first passes to start the play out of our zone. 

Second Period

This was the period that made it obvious that Nylander was one of the Leafs’ best players in this game (as he is almost every game) His shift that he scored on was as good as it gets. He threw a big check on the forecheck. He stayed with it on the back check and dug it out again on the forecheck only be standing in the perfect place at the end of the shift for a simple tap-in. 

Our power plays were decent. One of them had two amazing scoring chances both missed the net by an inch (which probably means Carey Price was in perfect position) Our entry to the O-zone on the PP has been a problem but so far in this game it has been good. 

I have never seen so many dropped and broken sticks. I am not really sure what to make of that. The first of three delay of game penalties came in this period. Although we are able to kill the penalties it makes it hard for a team to get any flow. I did think Riley Nash looked good on the PK with Zach Hyman. 

Price continued to make some great saves this period as well. Any notion of him not being the Habs best player (and only superstar as I have said many times) is ridiculous. Active sticks and blocked shots have been quite good all game for the Habs. Many of the Leaf scoring chances were deflected. 

It seems clear after two periods that the plan of attack for the Leafs is to activate the Defenseman in the O zone. The idea being that the defenders don’t know when or where the attack will come from. It seems to work but our D men missed the net almost every time. 

Third Period

Yes, we got a third delay of game penalty in this period. The Leafs spent way too much time in the box however we can feel good about our PK going forward. Nash has been consistent for us there tonight too. 

The third really didn’t have any great surprises. Our top players had good scoring chances on Price and he continued to play a near perfect game. I think he has been the best goalie in the NHL for a long time. 

People love to suggest the Leafs aren’t tough enough. I don’t feel like we were out-hit in any way again in the third. No matter what the total number of checks was;  it is more about the quality and timing of the checks and I feel we may have had the edge or at least been even in that department. 

The winning goal by the Habs, by one of their “no stars” was a great goal. Definitely one of the best goals of the year. To stay that focused on the puck while falling etc. was a highly skilled move from a guy who’s name I can’t even remember. The how and why it happened while the Leafs were on the PP is much less interesting. I think Sandin our young defenseman did the right thing diving once he new he was beat. He almost stopped him without taking a penalty. Campbell wasn’t great on it. (Price would have stopped it)

Right down to the last power play the Leafs had great chances. Kerfoot did an admirable job filling in for JT. If the Leafs play half as well next game and stay out of the box it should be a fairly easy victory. Even Carey Price can’t stop this Maple Leaf lineup in a best of 7. 

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