Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Leafs vs Habs game four (after re-watching)

A friend of mine who is Habs fan just forwarded me an article from a Montreal newspaper. He said, “this really sums things up perfectly”. Before I even looked at it I said; “let me guess; the Habs are terrible and the Leafs won’t go anywhere in the playoffs.” Of course this is exactly what the writer said (almost verbatim) in the first three paragraphs. 

So predictable;  Habs fans. It is all over Twitter. All Habs fans are saying the same thing. The other thing I loved about the article (no I didn’t read much further) was that it was describing all the Habs players in the past tense. Ha!

So, I am re-watching the Leafs vs Habs game four as I am known to do. The first period was a bit uneventful as there was no scoring. One thing I was reminded of is how well the third line of Mikheyev Engvall and Simmonds are playing together. Simmonds had a couple good scoring chances in this game. 

I am also liking the way Campbell is positioning himself when there is a lot of traffic in front of the net. I can never pretend to know much about goaltending but he is giving me cause to trust him even more. 

The second period starts with that beautiful three way passing play between Kerfoot, Galchenyuk and Nylander. Nylander made it look easy but a backhand like that moving at that speed can bit tricky. Yah Willy! Four goals in four games. (Hopefully you weren’t a Nylander skeptic as we like to call you a Nylanderthal) 

Leafs have been a good second period team all year. They are outscoring the Habs 6-1 in second periods in this series. 

Another thing I liked about game four was that Auston is getting a bit grumpy. He is initiating hits and not taking any guff (bet you haven’t heard that word in while) from the players who are checking him. (Yes it is usually two players checking him)

I would like to address the idea that the Leafs won’t go anywhere in the playoffs. First off, if we beat the Habs I think we have gone somewhere already. (It has been since 2004 since we won a round in the playoffs) Also, I think we can match up against some or all of the best teams in the NHL (of which we are one) I am watching the Lightning against the Panthers on my laptop while I pause last nights Leaf game on my TV and it is quite clear to me that there is not much that is radically different between the Leafs and the Bolts.  It is hockey. Same rules; anything can happen. Also I watched the Leafs beat Tampa in Tampa’s own barn last year before lockdown. ($5 beers and you can walk outside on the patio for intermission)

Galchenyuk’s saucer pass to Spezza was quite something. Again, Spezza made it look easy but that was a tough finish. I think Spezza has become one of the most popular Leafs with the Leaf nation. 

Joe Thornton has a nice PP goal with a pass from Spezza. Yes, the Habs took another penalty for crosschecking. 

I don’t think I will re-watch the third period. I was so relaxed that I already fully enjoyed it last night. 

Good night. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Leafs vs Habs game 3 (after re watching)

 Leafs vs Habs game 3 (after re watching)

This second viewing of the Leaf games has been really fun. It answers some questions for me and it gives me new questions. 

For example, what is Keefe trying to achieve when he puts Simmonds out with Nylander and Nash. Usually a line switch like that is a reaction to our own power play or PK but this was not the case. I want to think it is like a double shift for Nylander. The players he is with are sort of a “best-of” scenario from the bottom six? Is it driven by analytics?

I do think people don’t watch the game very closely. (Of course it is just entertainment to some so why would they?) A number of misconceptions about game three were adjusted for me after my second time through. For starters; the Habs did NOT totally outplay the Leafs in the third period. If anything, they were a little more even than during the rest of the game. If you put your kids to bed and came back and watched the last two minutes after they pulled Price (and believed the shot totals at the Bell Centre)  you might think they outplayed the Leafs in the third. 

I have heard people say the Leafs can’t let up when they have the lead. They did not. We had many scoring chances. (Remember Jumbo all alone in front missing the net with a slapshot) 

The other statistic that is so misleading is the number of hits in this series. The Leafs have certainly been tougher than the Habs and in a smart way. 

What I am seeing is the Habs (mostly Price) doing a decent job keeping our top line from scoring as much as they usually do. The good news is that our top line is destroying the Habs defensively in our Dzone. Also, our second line is having its way with le Tricolore on both ends of the ice.  

The one thing that has been consistent on both ends is the goaltending. In my humble and slightly biased opinion after watching this game twice it looks like the Leafs vs Carey Price. I am very happy to say that Jack Campbell has played pretty much just as well as Price however the scoring chances by the Habs have been much fewer and less dangerous. 

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Leafs vs Habs game 2 (after re watching)

 Leafs vs Habs game 2 (after re watching)

I am enjoying the process of re watching the Leafs playoff games. I can’t remember if I did that in 2004 (the last time we won a round of playoffs) however it would have have been on the VCR.  I would have had a 5yr old and and a two year old running around so it seems unlikely. 

I don’t want to repeat much of what I said in my Posgate Postgame (on Facebook Live) last night but I am not totally sure I remember what I said. (Occasionally I do watch my own shows the next day but have not as of yet today)

The first thing I will address is the Habs fans complaining about the penalties. I would like to know which obvious crosscheck you thought was not a penalty. Certainly not your big ugly defensemen on Engvall because he was fined for it today by the NHL. Your little chippy Galagher crosscheck to the head of our defender? Kotkiniemi breaking a stick over our players body?…

You don’t want to make it easy for the refs to make the calls and you need to notice a trend in what they are calling. Habs did neither. Not so smart fellas. 

I liked what I saw from all four of the Leaf lines. I do think you will see Hyman continue to improve as he gets more games in post injury. 

I am really starting to love that cheeky smile that Auston flashes when things are going well. It is subtle fun for us wearing blue and white at home. 

I did think we had a little trouble with exiting our zone as the Habs had good pressure on us making it challenging. I am sure coach Keefe and his team will fix that before tomorrow. 

I am not big on (or good at) making predictions but I do think this Leaf team still has another gear that involves a little more speed, and a little dangle and a little more flow. 

Looking forward to playing back to back this week!

Go Leafs go!

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