Latest posts by Omar White (see all)
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There’s no such thing as moral victories, especially in the playoffs. However, I think it’s good to acknowledge the fact that it could’ve been a bad game. The Leafs drop game one losing 3-2 to the Washington Capitals. When this series was finalized, the confidence in the team to pull it off wavered heavily. The Twitter-verse was married to the idea that the Leafs would be destroyed. Some even said that they would lose in three (haha very funny). Despite losing, there is a lot Toronto can build from this game. They have a sense of what playoff hockey is now and what you need to do to win. Saturday is another crack at a playoff victory. All the Leafs need to do is learn from their mistakes and come out strong, similarly to what they did in this game.
Who had the Leafs getting the first lead? If you have your hand up either you are the most optimistic person in the world, or a little bit of a fibber. The Leafs had a very strong start to this game. The speed of the team caught the Capitals off guard and caused them to make a number of turnovers. Within the first 10 minutes, the Washington crowd went from being loud and energetic to quiet and concerned. No one had the Leafs playing this well so early on (1:35 in to be exact), and it all starts with Mitch Marner.
Bozak and Marner have a give-and-go into the Caps end which results in a JVR shot on goal. Holtby makes the initial save but comes out and gets caught on the post coming back. The rebound comes out to Marner who sends it in the net to make it 1-0. The Leafs have the lead, but they don’t stop there. Halfway into the first period, Shattenkirk tries to clear the puck out of their own zone but Gardnier picks it up. He holds the puck into the slot and shoots through traffic and it’s in! 2-0 Toronto (we’ll talk about the shenanigans that happened after later on in this reaction).
If you’re a hockey fan, you know how officiating changes in the playoffs. When you start playing mid-to-late April, you’ll have to do something pretty serious to get called for a penalty. The calls this game were pretty inconsistent where the Leafs were being called for something that was significantly weaker than what the Caps were doing that was allowed. Why? Because of the second Toronto goal. After Gardnier scored, the refs waived off the goal saying that Kadri there was goalie interference. How!? From all instances where a goalie has been scored on but interfered with, they go postal. Holtby stood there mad, not mad at the refs, but mad at himself. Thankfully Babs used his coach’s challenge and the ruling was overturned.
So what happens after that? Brian Boyle gets called for interference, which shouldn’t be called in the playoffs. The Leafs continuously get called for things that shouldn’t be called in the playoffs. This is what happens when you make a mistake as a ref and then through a team a free power play to make it up to them. It creates an inconsistency.
Have to give this to Washington. Despite falling early, they were able to come back in the game. Mr. Game seven Justin Williams decided to pick it up six games ahead of schedule getting both of the Caps’ regulation goals. On the power play (5 on 3 actually…), the Leafs are faked out by a broken stick and allow Williams to be alone in front of the net and tap in the Oshie pass. It’s amazing what an intermission interview can do to drive your team. In the second period, the team assumes that Andersen has the puck after the Niskanen shot. Nylander lets Williams head towards the net and tap in the loose puck to tie the game. They were relentless and able to capitalize on their opportunities (see what I did there).
Freddie Andersen was solid this game as well, especially in the third period. Save after save the number one goaltender made to keep the game tied when Washington was starting to come back. The glove save off the Kuznetsov-Johansson 2-on-1 was a game saver. In overtime, Andersen reaches behind him and stops the Orpik shot from squeaking through his pads and then in mid air kicks the Burakovsky rebound attempt. Save for the game winner by Wilson, Andersen was solid for the Leafs, and they’ll need that for him down the stretch to have a shot at this series.
Tweets of the Game
In his first playoff game Matthews has a better beard going than Crosby did after 4 years of playoff hockey #TMLtalk
— Spaceman (@ShaneSukerman) April 13, 2017
— Craig Selbrede II (@CraigSelbrede) April 14, 2017