By Stan Smith
Usually, it’s The Old Prof (Jim Parsons, Sr.) who does the random thoughts posts on this new site. However, today it will be Stan Smith, who’s better known for his Good, Bad, & Ugly posts. Thanks, Stan for weighing in on the past game and the upcoming game tonight.
Random Thought One: Slow Starts Bury the Maple Leafs
I was thinking about the first game in the playoffs last season when I said I thought Toronto would come out with more jump in Tuesday’s game. However, I think I should have been paying more attention to the regular season games down the stretch. It was common for the Maple Leafs to start games slowly.
I wonder if it was a flaw or more of a planned thing. I could see Sheldon Keefe wanting the team to start each game with a defensive mindset just to get that at the forefront of their thoughts. Then, once they had their defensive game established, let their offence slowly build off of the defensive foundation.
If that is the case it backfired on them in game one.
Random Thought Two: Justin Holl
I was listening to First Up on TSN and Carlo Colaiacovo was harping over something I wondered about when it happened. However, then I let it slip from my mind with all of the other crap that happened afterward.
Colaiacovo’s take was “What the heck was Justin Holl doing on the first Tampa goal?” He went on to say that when Cory Perry was coming around behind the net he left himself wide open to be hit, and that Holl was in the perfect position to hit him. But, Holl just didn’t.
Going back and looking at it a few times, and in slo-mo, it is obvious that Holl was focused solely on the puck. It appears the thought of throwing a hit never crossed his mind.
Colaiacovo went further than just stating it was the biggest error on the goal. Which, by the way, I agree it was much bigger than the turnover by Aston-Reese. His take is that the missed hit could have set a tone for the game, and might have prevented Perry from being as effective as he was the rest of the game.
I was surprised at the time that Holl didn’t hit Perry. I thought it looked like he was lining him up to be hit.
Could it have changed the tone of the rest of the game? Who knows?
I see Holl was on for six of the seven Tampa goals. However, four of those goals were on the penalty kill. I have to say that I don’t recall a Maple Leafs’ player being on the ice for six goals against in a game, let alone a playoff game.
Random Thought Three: Playing The Puck
Regarding Holl playing the puck, I have stated before that I fully believe the Toronto defence playing the puck over playing the body is a systems thing. I think it’s planned. It can get them possession quicker and get the puck turned in the other direction quicker. When it works, it is great. However, when it doesn’t it can look really bad.
Mark Giordano did it on the second goal and it almost worked. He actually made contact with the puck twice on the play in that scrum. However, he failed to get it to a safe area. But again, he failed. And, it looked bad.
Ramdon Thought Four: Five-on-Five Hockey
An indication that the most important thing in this series might be for the Maple Leafs to stay out of the penalty box is the five-on-five stats.
According to Naturalstattrick.com, the five-on-five numbers for the Maple Leafs were: Shot Attempts 60%; Shots 52%; Scoring Chances 59%; High-Danger Chances 71%; and, Expected Goals 58%. Those numbers just scream – Stay out of the penalty box!
Random Thought Five: Luke Schenn
Speaking of advanced analytics, Luke Schenn had the best analytics of any Maple Leafs’ defenseman. His Shot Attempts were at 70%; his Shots 64%; his Scoring Chances 75%; High-Dangers Chances 86% (6 For, 1 Against); and his Expected Goals 87%.
He was on for one five-on-five goal for the Maple Leafs and wasn’t on for a Lightning goal against his team. He was the only Maple Leafs’ defenseman in the pluses, at plus-1.
Random Thought Six: Michael Bunting
I think if there was any question about whether or not the Maple Leafs would be re-signing Bunting in the offseason, there isn’t now.
He was always going to get offered more as a UFA than he would get from the Maple Leafs. Now, with the suspension, whatever trust Kyle Dubas and Sheldon Keefe might have still had in him (and I think their trust was fading) might be gone.
Who could replace him maybe as early as next season? Matthew Knies.
Random Thought Seven: Timothy Liljegren or Erik Gustafsson
While I think Knies will get into tonight’s game, it’s also possible Keefe could go with his 11-forward and 7-defenseman lineup. If he does dress an extra defenseman, will it be Timothy Liljegren or Erik Gustafsson?
I think Gustafsson could get the call. He can do pretty much everything Liljegren can do with the puck. With his age and experience, he is also most likely looked at as more reliable without the puck. He can also play both sides.
Random Thought Eight: Ilya Samsonov
Like the rest of the team, Ilya Samsonov looked tentative to start the game. Watching replays, I wonder if he was just unlucky, or if Tampa may have a game plan on how to play him.
Both goals were scored off of rebounds. The original shots were fired right at him and hit him high in his body, one in the neck area, and the other in the chest. Those shot locations made it impossible for him to control the rebounds.
It is something to watch for.
Despite what Keefe said after the game, I never thought that Samsonov starting game two was a question. It is his net. But, if he loses this game or starts the game like he did the first one, we could see it become Woll’s net.