The 2022-23 regular season is just past the halfway point. I don’t believe what happens now has a direct correlation to the Stanley Cup Finals. Should I?
Are the Bruins Too Tough for the Maple Leafs?
On Wednesday night, the Toronto Maple Leafs were beaten by the Boston Bruins by a score of 5-2. The two young Swedish defensemen – Timothy Liljegren and Rasmus Sandin – were unable to handle the physical play of the Bruins. As well, the Maple Leafs’ forwards were also not able to provide enough support. Ilya Samsonov also let in a few suspect goals.
That said, it would be tough to say that this team’s performance, in and of itself, is a deciding factor in what should happen at the trade deadline. Still, it’s worth considering the question: Are the Bruins too much of a superior team (especially with a strong defence) for the Maple Leafs to beat? Does the Bruins’ physical game make it likely they can impose their will on the Maple Leafs – any time and anywhere?
Head coach Sheldon Keefe has recognized the Bruins as the class of the NHL and has highlighted the challenge his team faces when competing against top teams like Boston. Yeah, but …
What’s the Deal with the Maple Leafs and Physical Teams?
So, really, how true is it that the Maple Leafs struggle against physical and aggressive teams and that their own lack of physicality and competitiveness is a weakness for them? Do they tend to give the puck away in the face of tough forechecking? Will the team’s defence always struggle against such intense defence?
Because the Maple Leafs’ playoff success will depend on how they address these weaknesses, it will be interesting to see what moves their general manager Kyle Dubas might do to improve the team. It might be crucial. Or, might it not be?
The Bruins Are a Strong Team, No Argument – But …
These things we know: some of the Maple Leafs’ young defence struggled against the Bruins’ physical play. However, some of the team’s defencemen did not. The Maple Leafs did play a solid game offensively against the Bruins. They just didn’t score.
What I have not read anything about is the defensive play of John Tavares. He played well against the Bruins’ top line and basically shut them down. Sure, his own offence suffered, but that’s the cost of his determined effort. The rest of the team didn’t step up to cover.
Oh, by the way, Auston Matthews was out of the game. That matters.
The Young Maple Leafs’ Roster Will Learn Some Key Lessons
But, it’s important to keep in mind that the Bruins are a strong team. The lessons learned and the experiences had will benefit the Maple Leafs’ young players in the long run. Samsonov had an off night in goal, but he kept his team in this game through the first half of the game.
It’s silly to believe that giving up a couple of goals redefines a goalie’s overall abilities. One game does not make a season. The Maple Leafs will have their chances for a rebound.
I’m looking for them to bounce back and improve as a team moving forward. That’s my random thought for today.