Viernes, 19 Octubre, 2018

Capitals vs. Maple Leafs: Complete first round schedule

Toronto Maple Leafs Auston Matthews reacts at the final buzzer of the team's NHL hockey game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday Kessel snaps scoring drought, but Penguins lose
Montrelle Montesinos | 12 Abril, 2017, 18:51

In many ways, Toronto has been an underdog all season, and their first-round series will be no different. "You've got younger guys who just came to the league and it's great for them, like they've got a chance to win right away".

On Thursday night in Washington, the Toronto Maple Leafs will play the Capitals in game one of the Wild-Card series.

How the Caps can stop him: Washington's forwards, and most importantly their bottom six, need to put their body onto Gardiner and make it hard for the smart, mobile defenseman to execute plays easily. But dwelling on what might have been for Toronto stopped the second the final buzzer hit zero.

Yet despite all those attributes, I can't help but think he is holding back Matthews offensively.

Capitals: Focus. Although the Capitals can't win the Stanley Cup in this series, they can lose their chance to win it if they get distracted by the big picture or talk of past early-round exits. "So it's not just year-to-year you get better. But for us as a young group, it was a great atmosphere and everybody was happy because we take a huge step forward as an organization and as players". Everyone sees the year [Washington] has had.

The Capitals will face the Bruins or the Maple Leafs.

"A lot of those games (in the past month) were tight", Babcock said. "You're wired up for everyone, but you want to play games that are high-energy and that mean something". They're well-coached and often well-organized, save for their typical brain farts, like Jake Gardiner's puck punt that gave Pittsburgh the go-ahead goal late. The Leafs have a huge opportunity to leapfrog the Bruins by getting at least a point against Columbus, a team that has lost six in a row and is sagging badly heading into the playoffs. The suffocating Senators are up first and have home ice, but if Marchand can get on a roll and pile up the points, Boston won't be an easy out for anyone.

Connor Brown's victor came less than three minutes later. Marner's goal lifted Toronto to a lead once more, but John Carlson scored to send the game to overtime, where Alex Ovechkin got the game-winner. One has to imagine that he'd have been playing if it was the Playoffs.

The Leafs have little to no playoff experience in their lineup, they have injury concerns in net and on defence, and they are playing against, perhaps, the most complete team in the league.

Just about everything has changed save for those five players that still remain: Komarov, Bozak, Kadri, Gardiner, and James van Riemsdyk. They have one more regular season game left to play, against the Columbus Blue Jackets, and will be very important in determining their first round opponent. Rielly admitted there were times it was no fun reporting for work.

Matthews, the favourite to win the Calder Trophy, recorded his 29th assist in the game, giving him a shot at 70 points when the Leafs play host to Columbus on Sunday to finish the regular season.

The Capitals have one game left on the 2016-17 regular-season schedule. The Capitals are the same powerhouse they've been for the past few seasons, but will they be able to exorcise their playoff demons this year?

Tyler Bozak cashed in with a power-play goal at 3:30, one-timing a lovely shot pass from William Nylander. With Pittsburgh's defensive deficiencies, I expect the Blue Jackets to outlast the Pens for some revenge and advance to the second round. "You look at not only how good they were, but how healthy they were". The Leafs had the lowest winning percentage (.378) in the league in one-goal games, a reflection of their youth.

A lot of other fan bases are exhausted of hearing about it all, even in Year 1. On Sunday, Toronto won 59 percent of its draws mostly because of how strong the two veterans were.

The Capitals won another Presidents' Trophy this year, their second this decade and first since 2010.

This realization must have hit the Maple Leafs when they looked at the out-of-town scoreboard at Air Canada Centre, and clearly it shook them.