As if being forced to face the Boston Bruins in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs wasn’t annoying enough.
Toronto will face Boston in Game 7. Again. Tonight. Why can’t we have nice things?
It’s time to quit whining and look on the bright side. The Toronto Maple Leafs have a chance to break a storyline that has plagued them since 2013 – Game 7 losses at the hands of the Boston Bruins.
That changes tonight.
Toronto needs to flip the script
I know we, as Leafs fans, hate reliving anything to do with Toronto’s 2013 and 2018 Game 7 losses to the Bruins. However, the Toronto Maple Leafs should be reflecting on those games heading into tonight.
Read more about why we believe the Leafs have the advantage in tonight’s Game 7 here.
Keep the Nerves at Bay
It’s easier said than done. Toronto is a young team, with a boatload of potential and high expectations. Unfortunately, our Game 7 woes all sprouted from blown leads.
The Leafs have won two games at TD Garden already this series. Based on their playoff performance in Boston thus far, I’d bet on them pocketing an early goal once they suppress their first period jitters. As long as we can maintain a lead, as hard as it sounds, the Toronto Maple Leafs will be okay.
Be Patient, not Passive
A noticeable factor in each of Toronto’s three wins was their emphasis on a patient style of puck possession and movement. The Leafs become vulnerable when they rush their plays, leading to unnecessary turnovers at crucial times. It’s a harsh reality that Toronto’s defensive core has seen amplified by fans and the media in past years.
Fortunately, there is a major difference between being passive and being patient. For the Leafs, being patient means taking calculated risks, and not attempting to flood the offensive zone whenever they have the puck. Continuously clogging up the neutral and defensive zones, and breaking out when they have clear cut chances will win Toronto this game. It worked in Game 5 in Boston, and it’ll work tonight too.
Of course, the biggest risks can result in the biggest gains. The chances of a positive outcome are higher when Mitch Marner is executing the play. We’ll need him to show up tonight for that to be possible.
Expected Line Combinations: Toronto Maple Leafs
Hyman – Tavares – Marner
Johnsson – Matthews – Kapanen
Marleau – Nylander – Brown
Ennis – Gauthier – Moore
Expected Line Combinations: Boston Bruins
Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak
DeBrusk – Krejci – Johansson
Heinen – Coyle – Kuhlman
Nordstrom – Acciari – Wagner
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See everyone tonight. Go Leafs Go.