Maple Leafs Force Game Six With 2-1 Game Five Win
The Toronto Maple Leafs played like a team on the brink of elimination last night. They came out with a ton of energy and it paid off. The Bruins wasted a perfect opportunity to end a series. The B’s could have used the rest too as Wade Redden is nursing a minor injury, and Jaromir Jagr is still not operating at 100%.
Bad plays highlighted by sloppy puck possession and poor decisions on the breakout led to both of the Leafs’ goals. Tyler Bozak out raced Andrew Ference, and beat a sliding Tuukka Rask to put Toronto up 1-0 midway through the second period. Bozak’s goal was a shorthanded marker that had to be deflating to a Bruins team with little compete factor in the first 40 minutes of game time. Its almost comical to pick on Boston’s powerplay at this point, and yet here we are with a man advantage unit that gave up a big one. I could also just as easily point at Rask and say “This here, this is where we need the timely ones”, but he has been one of the best Bruins in this entire series.
The Leafs’ second goal, and eventual game winner, was another puck movement travesty. Johnny Boychuk made an off pass to an over-extended Nathan Horton in the neutral zone, which he of course missed. The puck landed on Clarke MacArthur’s stick and was in the net behind Tuukka before anyone could recover.
Before I go on to some of the positives from the Bruins performance tonight… or the ten minutes of it, I want to talk about how phenomenal James Reimer was tonight. He was so good that I feel badly for suggesting the Leafs should have have traded for Luongo at the deadline. Yes, the Bruins did hit a lot of posts tonight, but so did the Leafs. Reimer faced 41 shots and only allowed 1 goal, this is with the Leafs defensive unit loaded with few defensive minded d-men. Cody Franson, Jake Gardiner, and John Michael-Liles are all offensive minded guys. Mark Fraser was also out of the game with a terrible injury. That leaves the Leafs with Dion Phaneuf and Carl Gunnarson with the bulk of the defensive duties. Not exactly a winning formula, but Reimer was there and he put the team on his back tonight.
Brad Marchand didn’t even register a shot on goal last night, this is a guy who led the Bruins in scoring this season. Patrice Bergeron is one of the best players in the game in this writer’s opinion, unfortunately he has yet to get his offensive game going at any real solid pace. Next on the list is Tyler Seguin. Seguin is getting a considerable amount of negative feedback which is unfair. He is leading the Bruins in shots on goal in the playoffs which shows me that he is putting in the effort. He is yet to find the back of the net in this series, which is a little bit bad luck, and a little bit poor decision making.
Tyler Seguin needs to do more with the puck then just attempting to beat everyone head on. He has speed hundred of players wish they had, and yet he insists on going at defensemen as if he can just muscle past them, or worse yet dangle his way through as if it were a skills competition. With his speed, I would like to see him take opposing defensemen outside which would draw them to him. This would open up his line-mates for good opportunities. Don’t forget that he is still 21, he has a ton of room to grow and become the elite offensive weapon we all know he can be.
There were some Bruins who played really good games last night despite the pitiful effort. Zdeno Chara stands out to me in this one. He played 28:06 minutes, was a +1, scored Boston’s only goal, and had 8 shots on goal. The B’s need their captain to set an example, and Big Z did just that, unfortunately very few others followed suit. Jaromir Jagr earned the game’s third star honor with his excellent effort. Jagr missed the last couple of games of the regular season with flu-like symptoms, and has yet to fully recover into the puck-possession king we all know him to be. Last night was a good step for the legend as he played 18:44 minutes, and registered 7 shots on goal.
Tuukka Rask was also excellent when he wasn’t giving up two softies. That may seem harsh but it isn’t, the goals were soft in the traditional sense, but it was the defense in front of him that hung him out to dry. He stopped 31 of 33 shots last night and earned the games second star honor.
The Bruins now face another challenge, as they will have to try and eliminate the Maple Leafs in Toronto in front of one of the biggest fan bases in the NHL. It was incredibly disappointing to see the Bruins waste such an excellent opportunity as they did last night, but they still have the Leafs in favorable position, with their own destiny resting firmly in their hands. I picked the Bruins in six anyways, so for the sake of my own ego, let’s get that W in Toronto.
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