We’ve spent an extreme period of time coping with our opinions on “tie goes to the veteran” inside Leafs Nation. We’ve established the place most of us fall relating to enjoying guys like Roman Polak over Connor Carrick, and Leo Komarov over Andreas Johnsson (and to a lesser extent over Josh Leivo). It’s protected to say that it’s in our nature to query what Mike Babcock has executed and I actually really feel that loads of the concepts produced warrant implementation.
That being stated, it’s not going to occur now.
The Penalty Kill
Hainsey and Polak close to the highest in time on ice in Game One because of their penalty killing roles, that’s not going to alter. You’d suppose giving up three energy play targets would warrant an overhaul, however in a season the place solely Hainsey, Zaitsev, and Polak noticed important PK time on the blue line implies that we aren’t more likely to see Gardiner or (heaven forbid) Carrick fill these roles anytime quickly. The finest we will hope for is that Morgan Rielly does greater than only a cameo and that it doesn’t take a 5 minute main for Dermott to issue into the PK equation.
Maybe there is a little more hope relating to forwards on the penalty kill. Again, Hyman, Komarov, and Brown are the consolation meals right here, and Moore and Plekanec get the visitor starring roles, however even in Babcock’s “no stars on the PK” world, Kasperi Kapanen, and Andreas Johnsson have made appearances this season. When the penalty kill has labored so poorly, each of these gamers present the pace and offensive risk that will limit the cruel beating the Leafs acquired in that regard final evening. The concept of enjoying somebody as expert and full as Matthews on the penalty isn’t going to occur this 12 months, regardless that all indicators level to it in all probability being a #good #concept.
The attention-grabbing distinction right here is that Bruins rely closely on each Marchand and Bergeron being part of their penalty kill. It’s not one thing the place when David Backes takes a two minute penalty, not solely do you not see Backes on the ice for 2 minutes, you additionally don’t see Marchand and Bergeron. That’s solely amplifying the harm inflicted by the penalty name.
The subsequent time Roman Polak takes a penalty, mirror on how he’s taken Matthews, Marner, Nylander, Kadri, Dermott, van Riemsdyk, Gardiner, and Marleau out of the sport for the following two minutes (or typically much less). That appears goofy.
The Kadri Factor
“MOVE NYLANDER TO CENTRE!!!!” appears to be a well-liked battle cry and one I 51% agree with, on condition that we’re probably wanting Nazem Kadri being absent for no less than one, if not two video games this collection (something greater than that’s extreme and could possibly be the subject of one other publish.)
My issues with Nylander at centre may align with Babcock’s on this uncommon occasion, and that’s that he hasn’t seen loads of time there this 12 months. That in fact is Babcock’s fault, however perhaps the time to go towards that isn’t in Game 2 of the playoffs when the Bruins have the final change. When the Leafs are enjoying at residence, it’s extra interesting, however it ignores that Babcock isn’t going to alter the best way he does issues now. The tie will nonetheless go to the veteran.
The finest case state of affairs of the tie going to the veteran, no less than to me, is that we see Patrick Marleau shift over to centre and he’s given an affordable offensive expertise similar to Kasperi Kapanen or Andreas Johnsson to accompany him and Marner. With the tie going to the veteran, we in all probability want to organize ourselves for Leo Komarov rejoining the second line.
As I write this…
Leo Komarov strikes as much as play with Matthews and Marleau strikes again to centre.
Today’s Leafs traces:
— Jonas Siegel (@jonassiegel) April 13, 2018
Okay, so let’s unpack this as a result of I’ll maintain myself accountable to what I stated above. Marleau did look like the very best of the Babcock accredited choices, and I had made peace with Komarov being moved up within the lineup. Johnsson is available in, which is nice, and Hyman is a greater offensive weapon for Marleau than Komarov, who will now be on the ice with Marchand for lots extra licks.
Honestly, I can settle for this by wanting it the best way I’ve at all times seemed on the Leafs. It might have been a lot worse. No Dominic Moore. No second line centre Tomas Plekanec. No Matt Martin. These are wins, nonetheless small and unsatisfying they could be.
This can be a lineup for the Leafs on the street. Do we see Hyman again with Matthews for Game Three? There’s an excellent likelihood of it. If Kadri’s nonetheless out, is Nylander at centre doable? It will rely so much on Game 2, I’d think about. The Leafs are making a shit sandwich with Kadri out of the lineup, however this one no less than seems to be okay regardless that it in all probability received’t go the odor take a look at.
Game One didn’t go nicely. Kadri lacking time goes to harm. There are loads of causes to query the choices made by Mike Babcock (or some other coach for that matter), however the actuality is that Mike Babcock isn’t going to drastically change his established approach of teaching the Leafs after one playoff recreation. No matter how a lot Polak and Hainsey might go away many people nauseated, they received’t be going away rapidly, and actually the Leafs defensive pairings in observe at this time. If we’re going to be damned, it’s going to be damned for what Babcock is, not what we would like.