After making it out of the first round For the first time since 19 years, it is unlikely that the Toronto Maple Leafs will be able punch their ticket to the second round.
It’s not an opinion about the team and “unlikely is not definitive.” It’s a fact that most of the teams that are swept 2-0 by an NHL playoff team end up playing on the golf courses in no time.
New Jersey Devils bucked this trend during these playoffs. But teams with a series lead of 2-0 in NHL postseasons have an overall record of 343-55. Florida Panthers’ fans can be proud of their team right now.
The Maple Leafs appeared to be in a very different situation in Game 2 than they are now.
Toronto had a clear advantage in the first half. It outshot Florida by 16-9, with 63.64% scoring chances and 77.78% high-danger opportunities. expected goals. The underlying advantage was a 2-1 result.
It’s not impossible to overcome a one goal lead, but the Maple Leafs had the upper hand in the second period. The Maple Leafs were not assured of a 1-1 tie, but they had a good chance to win.
Then in the first 66 seconds of the second period the game — and Toronto’s chances of a deep playoff run — changed significantly.
Jake McCabe started the day with a smear of icing.
This was an extremely basic play that went a little wrong.
William Nylander was supposed to deflect the puck into Florida’s area, but it did not quite reach his stick. It’s impossible to pinpoint the player at fault. However, it was a low ceiling, medium risk maneuver. The best case scenario was an entry with a chase and dump, while the worst case is an icing.
After the icing there was still very little reason for alarm as the Maple Leafs’ line wasn’t tired in the slightest — and Toronto trusts Ryan O’Reilly in a defensive-zone faceoff scenarios.
Toronto cleared the neutral zone quickly, but Nylander was unable to stickhandle his way through it. This resulted in an influx of players the other direction.
It’s the kind of play that Maple Leafs supporters often blame Nylander for. There is no good defense for a turn over like that.
The opportunity that resulted from the misplay, however, was not dangerous. Ilya Samuelov’s mistake, which was a poor angle shot with low velocity that Ilya Samsonov stabbed with his glove, magnified Nylander’s misplay.
By 19 seconds of the second half, Nylander and Samsonov had combined their mistakes to tie the game. It took more mistakes to come together for the second goal.
Michael Bunting was sent to retrieve the dump that Florida attempted after Auston Matthews’ line failed to gain control of Florida’s zone following a simple dump-and chase forecheck.
It’s fair that the Maple Leafs winger dealt with the situation as badly as possible. The 27-year-old was slow to react and when he retrieved the puck, he casual dropped it back — right to Matthew Tkachuk — then toppled to the ground in the ensuing battle.
Matthews, with his solid stickwork and McCabe’s sharp outlet pass, put Mitch Marner into a good position to escape from the zone.
The winger chose to pass the ball back to his center instead of chipping it ahead, despite Eetu luostarinen bearing down on him.
Matthews found himself in a difficult situation and he couldn’t chip the puck in front of Luostarinen with a split-second play.
Florida was able to start a counterattack — and the Panthers converted on another chance to earn a lead they wouldn’t relinquish:
In that sequence, the Maple Leafs looked like a mess.
Bunting, Matthews and Anton Lundell all attacked each other. The team was left in a 3-on-2 back-end situation. McCabe did not do much to pressurize Tkachuk’s pass and there was nobody left to pick Gustav Forsling up.
It took a number of things to go wrong before the Maple Leafs let the Panthers escape with a mere minute.
The best neutral-zone player had to flip the puck in the middle of ice. Selke Trophy The candidate made a terrible decision in his zone and the goaltender who led them on in their zone. Game 6 win The Tampa Bay Lightning were forced to concede a goal that NHL goalies simply do not allow.
This combination of factors left them in a rut they couldn’t climb out of in Game 2. The series deficit is one few teams can overcome.