Leafs Game 3 Recap: Breathe!

Well, that was stressful! It’s nice to know that the awful, gut-wrenching, sickening feeling of watching your team desperately try to hold onto a 1 goal lead late in a playoff game hasn’t gone away. It means you care! The good thing about the playoffs is that the only thing that matters is winning. Yes, some things might be worrisome or need to be worked on, but it’s much more about the result than the process. No player ratings for tonight’s recap, as we’re going to do things a little differently. I’m going to split the game up into positives, negatives and a couple of questions, but first, let’s talk about the game as a whole. It started off slowly, but you could tell the Leafs were starting to control play by the end of the first, which carried on into period 2. The Leafs had 4 high danger chances to the Habs 1 in the 2nd and would’ve been up by more than the single goal if not for Carey Price. The 3rd was, well, not good, but we’ll talk more about that later. For now, let’s check out some positives!


1. The play of Morgan Rielly: It was almost a perfect game from Morgs tonight, offensively, at the very least, it was. He made so many wise decisions to join the rush and create a numerical advantage, and his feet were flying. Here’s just one example of Rielly sneaking behind the D and getting his legs going.

Obviously, his defensive positioning wasn’t excellent for the lone Habs goal, but as I wrote about earlier in the year, you have to take the good with the bad with #44. Today, the good massively outweighed the bad. Rielly was the Leafs’ best performer expected goals-wise. The Leafs owned a whopping 85% of the scoring chances when he was on the ice. And, of course, he did the goal thing!  Without Tavares, the Leafs need their D to help out the offence as much as possible, and Morgan did that tonight. 

2. Smart physicality: I love when teams use their physicality to create chances and opportunities for themselves. There is not much point in just hitting for the sake of it, in my opinion, but hitting with a purpose is never a bad thing. Matthews and Hyman specifically had 9 hits between the 2 of them, but they usually ended up with the puck on the forecheck. As much as I love a good stick lift, separating your man from the puck is just as, if not more effective, and the Habs defencemen do not do well under opponent pressure.  But also, I love when Wayne Simmonds does this.

3. Soup!: What more must I say?! What a huge third period from Jack Campbell. It wasn’t spectacular, it wasn’t flashy, but it was calm, relaxed and collected. You need your goalie to be your best player when you’re holding onto a lead in the playoffs, and he was. He saved 1.15 goals above expected, and that’s pretty darn good in my books.

4. Big Game Bill: I love William Nylander so much and you are LOST if you don’t feel the same.


1. 3rd-period performance: I didn’t like what I saw today from the Leafs late in the 3rd. They played so well on Saturday with the lead and never let up, but it was a much more anxious, panicky performance tonight. They created a few chances a the end, but overall they got outshot 13-2 and lost the scoring chance battle 6-1. The Leafs aren’t built to sit back and invite pressure; they need to preserve their lead by controlling the puck and playing in the opponents’ end. Of course, it’s not always going to be perfect, but I just didn’t like how it felt like they didn’t have a chance to breathe for 20 minutes.

2. Mitch Marner?!/power play: As bad and ugly as it has been watching Joe Thornton on PP1, I can’t just only criticize him. Marner needs to be better, and he needs to be better on the power play. He isn’t shooting the puck, which means teams can just overload the side where AM34 is, and when he does shoot, it’s brutal. I’d love to see Marner in down on the goal line and Nylander on the half wall. It adds a shooting threat, and it gives Marner more space to work with. 

At 5 on 5, He’s holding onto the puck too long at times, he’s making bad decisions, he’s losing puck battles. But then you see him make passes like the one to Rielly for GWG, so you know he can play like his usual self! He just needs to slow things down and remind himself he doesn’t have to do it alone. Be your energetic, creative self, Mitch!


1. What’s the point of Riley Nash?: Again, just didn’t do anything tonight. He struggled to even make basic passes.

2. Can Adam Brooks and Nick Robertson play?: I know Brooks can, but I honestly don’t know if Nick Rob is healthy. If he is, they both should get looks in game 4.

Reader Question – Why am I never happy?: Because you are a Habs fan.

Word{s} of the night: scrappy, scary, anxiety-inducing, but a WIN!

Number of the Night: 0 – The Habs have scored 0 power-play goals so far, good job PK!

Go off KING!

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