Photo via Graig Abel/NHL Interactive
Not many ways to polish this one. A 5-2 loss to the Boston Bruins in Game 3 and the Leafs fall behind two games to one in the series.
It’s hard to see exactly what went wrong, though. Phil Kessel got his fair share of time away from Zdeno Chara as Toronto had an easier time controlling the individual matchups. Jake Gardiner was skating really strong and got some offence going. The Leafs shut down the Bruins top line of Tyler Seguin, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, holding them to two shots apiece and a single scoring chance between them.
Can’t have been special teams. Even after allowing a disheartening shorthanded goal to Daniel Paille, the Leafs were +1 in special teams, going two-for-six on their own powerplay, in addition to out-shooting Boston 11-1 at 4-on-4. There were a lot of individual efforts to like, and a lot of micro areas of the game you could analyze and conclude the Maple Leafs were a better team.
But they weren’t. The Bruins had them beat 5-on-5, almost brutally. A game played in stark juxtaposition to the second game of the series, in front of a boisterous crowd backed by many more thousands outside the doors. Leafs Nation showed up, and the Maple Leafs did as well. Unfortunately, they were beaten by a real good hockey team on Monday night. Details below.
We’ll have more on how coach Claude Julien countered the Chara matchup, but it looked to be pretty clear that he wanted to get his best defensive guys playing in his own end, and zone matched a little harder than usual tonight. It’s typical for Julien to use his forwards in distinct zone situations, but he was quite extreme in Game 3—particularly with his defence:
-Of the team’s 24 defensive zone faceoffs:
-Patrice Bergeron was out for 14 of them.
-Gregory Campbell was out for 9 of them.
-Chris Kelly was out for 13 of them.
-David Krejci was out for 0 of them.
-Bergeron was on the ice with Campbell for all 9 of Campbell’s.
On defence, this may be pretty rare, but:
-Zdeno Chara was out for 15 of them.
-Johnny Boychuk was out for 12.
-Dennis Seidenberg was out for 9.
-Andrew Ference was out for 9.
-Adam McQuaid was out for 3.
-Wade Redden was out for 0.
-Shows the kind of faith Julien has in his third line but not his third pairing D. He banks on Chara so much at either end. It’s rare for a team to be that top-heavy: Chara was also out for 7 of the team’s 16 offensive zone faceoffs, more than any other defenceman as well.
-Did that particularly work? No. Kessel played 6.0 Chara-less minutes on the ice tonight, the Leafs marginally out-shooting Boston 11-10 in those situations and out-chancing the Bruins 4-3. Kessel himself had an okay game, with nine shot attempts, five of those on goal. He had two dangerous outside looks, one of those was on the powerplay, and was probably the Leafs’ second most dangerous offensive guy.
-Best was James van Riemsdyk. Eight shots on net, four of those counting as scoring chances. Effective game from him, even if he didn’t score a goal for the first time in these playoffs. The second line had another good game, although they were marginally out-chanced 1-2.
-Biggest difference? The play of Milan Lucic. He was the most effective Bruin early on: Boston had six scoring chances in the first period and Looch factored in on three of those. He finished with five shots and three assists, which was consistent with how the #fancystats rated him tonight. Even though the third period was heavily tilted shot-wise in the third period thanks to score effects, Lucic ended with a +4 Fenwick (unblocked shot differential) and +3 in scoring chances. Nathan Horton was also +3 and David Krejci was +4. Much better game from them.
-So in Game 2, the Bruins second line goes quiet. In Game 3, the Bruins’ first line goes quiet. Game 1 is what happens when both are going. Worth noting that Dion Phaneuf and Carl Gunnarsson primarily matched up against the Krejci line in Game 2 and the Bergeron line in Game 3.
-Like Game 1, limited night offensively for Nazem Kadri. His line was +1/-3 in chances, Kadri was individually a minus-5 in Fenwick, and he recorded just two shots on net (although two blocked attempts and two misses, but no scoring chances). Unfortunately, while Chara was pulled away from Kessel, he matched up a lot against Joffrey Lupul (9.4 minutes) and Kadri (8.2) and kept them in check all night. Tough guy to beat.
-Then again, Chara was limited offensively, probably because there was so much push-back by the Maple Leafs in the third period and Toronto had the special team’s advantage. Toronto out-shot the Bruins 11-1 on 4-on-4 situations, as noted, and those don’t get tracked in the chart below, but the contributions of the Grabovskis and van Riemsdyks of the world should be noted at 4-on-4.
-8:49 for Jay McClement, 7:38 for Ryan Hamilton, 7:31 for Leo Komarov and 4:49 for Colton Orr. Neither were particularly effective (maybe McClement during special teams) but given their limited ice-time and huge number of scoring chances recorded against them, perhaps one ought to take a seat for the more versatile Clarke MacArthur in Game 4.
-Apparently Colorado Avalanche fans called Ryan O’Byrne ROBitussin:
-I don’t want to hammer the guy because O’Byrne wasn’t the biggest problem on the night, and Phil Kessel made a bad giveaway leading up to the Danny Paille goal. They happen, but O’Byrne wasn’t particularly good otherwise. I think his good scoring chance differential on the evening was thanks to the play of Jake Gardiner, who I thought was absolutely fantastic.
-It’s so refreshing to see a Leafs defenceman actually invade the offensive zone. Offensive chances generally start from below the Bowman line, unless the plan is to fire pucks at random from the point and hope for rebounds.
-The Leafs put 14 of their 15 scoring chances on net. Dion Phaneuf hit a post, and Tuukka Rask handled 12 of them. Pretty good save rate, particularly in the third as Toronto got two good opportunities after making the score 4-2. Rask was amazing, stopping 40 shots at even strength out of 40 faced.
-James Reimer was a bit “meh”-er. Stopped 8-of-11 scoring chances which isn’t bad, but he didn’t look good on the Adam McQuaid goal. He had a .912 save percentage at even strength, which is pretty good, but not *excellent* and *excellent* goaltending is required from Reimer to win these games.
-Ultimately… some good things, but the Bruins are a lot better 5-on-5 especially once you factor in the goaltending, and that’s where they won the game. What’s the answer for Game 4? Is it more faceoff wins? More hits? More shots? The real answer is “better players”. The Leafs’ record to this point is illusory and getting here has been a lot of fun, but this is a team that will be out-matched in a playoff series against the Bruins and need a lot of things to break the right way to have a chance.
-That didn’t happen tonight, hence the scoreline.
Individual scoring chances:
|Chances For||Chances Vs.||Chance Diff.|
|James van Riemsdyk||3||4||-1|
|Chances For||Chances Vs.||Chance Diff.|
|Toronto (EV)||3 (3)||7 (5)||5 (2)||15 (10)|
|Boston (EV)||6 (6)||7 (5)||0 (0)||13 (11)|
LeafsNation Three Stars:
- Milan Lucic
- Tuukka Rask
- James van Riemsdyk