Last year in games 1 and 2 Boston handed us our hat and coat.
Back home we barely scraped by game 3 for the win before Boston got us again in game 4 on our own ice, putting us down 3 - 1 in the series going back to their barn. We managed to prevail in games 5 and 6 to force game 7, the game of which we do not speak.
This year we went in to Boston and handily upset them game 1. We gave them fits in game 2 on their own ice before succumbing to their desperation.
Back home, we went back to work on them in game 3 and went up in the series 2 - 1.
So some things at play here...
We have the Marner factor for which Boston has no answer. We have the Matthews / Tavares conundrum, where the extended depth on those two lines has Boston spreading their defensive gravy a little too thin. That means coaching becomes a bigger factor. In that regard, we have the best. Babcock seems quite content rolling the grinding 4th line against the Bergeron line. Frankly, I think the tables are turned and instead of Boston getting in Toronto's collective head, I think the Bruins are a little worried. If they're worried about losing then they're not concentrating on solving Toronto and winning.
The only thing is, I have this nagging doubt sitting on my shoulder reminding me of the inconsistency we finished the season with, and also reminding me of the game of which we do not speak.
On that note I'll hold my tongue on the predictions and just say.... GO LEAFS GO!!!
Well, got beat up again today. Started slow 0-2, tied it up 2-2, then let boston go up 5-2 before trying to tie it up in the 3rd...
Boston has regained their home ice advantage and going back to Boston will be tough to win.
If you asked me before the series started if I'd take 2-2 after 4 games, I would have said damn right. But what I would have expected was the Leafs tying the series to make it 2-2, not losing two series leads twice, and missing the chance on going up 3-1 in the series hurts.
Of course it's not all on Babcock. But he did get outcoached, again. And he puts the lines on the ice. and Matthews had something like 17 minutes icetime before the game was out of hand at 4-1. That's not unacceptable. He was one of the best players in the series. He's 21 fucking years old, he's not an old man. You can doubleshift him and play him 22-23 minutes especially in a do or die game.
One this is for sure, next year's team will have less raw talent than this team.
Quite a lot of activity with the Leafs, a lot of familiar faces out the door but I think overall the team is getting better. I still think we're a piece of two away from serious contention. The trade deadline next year will be notable for sure. I think we got a little bigger and meaner on defence and our strength up front hasn't wavered at all. Losing Kadri's grit is double-edged. No more gong show, but no more in your face hockey either - I don't think there's anyone on the team that plays with thew same ferocity as Kadri.