And of course, then there was Frederik Andersen, whom Toronto acquired from Anaheim last summer to serve as their No. 1 netminder. Instead of wheeling around the boards, the puck bounced awkwardly into the slot where it was chased down by Matthews.
Mike Babcock looked up at the scoreboard, his eyes piercing, his expression nearly blank.
He is, after all, the ultimate Maple Leafs super pest, the consummate competitor who spent a good chunk of Toronto’s first-round series against the Washington Capitals exchanging hacks, whacks and chirps with Alexander Ovechkin and Co. He needed some time.
Entering the series, the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Capitals were expected to handle Toronto easily in their first round matchup. The team needs to upgrade its defense and I’m sure that will happen during the offseason, but there’s no denying the talent and future success of the Maple Leafs.
The goal had more than a bit of luck involved, but it took the 19-year-old’s skill to ensure the Leafs opened the scoring.
“You can’t help but feel good for him”. The team didn’t really a choice given the way Matthews and company were flying around the ice.
“They have a great penalty kill; they have a great goalie”, Bozak said. If they stay healthy, the Leafs will be playing for a Stanley Cup in the next two or three years. He despises trying to encapsulate so much in so few sentences.
“When you have someone down and you have a chance to step on him, you step on him”, Babcock said.
“Until you’ve been through the playoffs with players, you don’t really know the level of the player you have”, Babcock said, expressing pride at what his team accomplished. I’ve never seen anything like this.
It was the fifth time in in the series that the Leafs and Caps required overtime to determine a victor.
Forty-two games later, 18 of which went into overtime, the first round of the playoffs has come to an end. We won four faceoffs and we didn’t do much with them.
“That’s hardened us too”. “I like that mentality”.
“They’re the Presidents’ Trophy winners and it was one-goal games”, said rookie Zach Hyman.
“Yes, he is fine”, Trotz said during a media conference call Saturday. The season was superb. Toronto brought the puck out of their own end together and Rielly fired what looked to be a routine dump-in, only for it to catch an edge on the glass and bounce straight out in front of Holtby. There is real hope. I want next year to start tomorrow. “In the playoffs, there is no place to hide”, said Babock.
Within about 10 seconds of the goal being scored that squashed their dreams, the sheer disappointment of the enthusiastic crowd that had just witnessed its team lose in overtime at Air Canada Centre abruptly turned to cheers.
But Ottawa answered in the second period, Bobby Ryan tipping in the equalizer on the power play just 3:26 into the period and Kyle Turris netting his first goal of the series just 5:06 later to give the Senators the lead. Apparently, there is some confusion about one of his goals in Game 3 that was originally credited to Evgeni Malkin. This time, Ovechkin got up and skated away.
Toronto was 2-1 against the Penguins in the regular season, and each team scored eight goals.
In the handshake lineup, that great tradition of hockey, the generational Alexander Ovechkin, stopped to talk to Auston Matthews, on his way to being generational.
But the pain didn’t last long, in large part thanks to Matthews.
With the Leafs rebuild ahead of schedule, perhaps the most important change has been the perception of the team not across the hockey world but in the city of Toronto.
Jake Gardiner almost scored for the Leafs a few minutes earlier, but his blast from the point pinged off the crossbar.