Kukla's Korner Hockey
from the CP at Sportsnet,
The Toronto Maple Leafs are trying to keep expectations in check for next season.
The Leafs leaped from last-place in the NHL to an unlikely playoff spot and near upending of the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Washington Capitals in the first round. But the organization appears to be guarding against expectations jumping too high too fast for a young team led by 19-year-old Auston Matthews.
“It’s a step,” Lou Lamoriello, the Leafs general manager, said of the team’s surprisingly positive 2016-17 campaign. “(But) it’s going to get more difficult. Teams are going to look at you a little different — the way they approach you. Teams are going to know your tendencies as a player and how they can stop you. So there’s a lot that has to transpire. That’s why it’s just a step.”
The Leafs posted some videos today too, you can watch them all here.
via Sporstnet's YouTube page,
NHL insider Glenn Healy says not only is Toronto now a desired destination for free agents, but owners and players around the league are envious of the Maple Leafs organization.
from Nicholas J. Cotsonika of NHL.com,
It was more of a beginning than an ending for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Oh, Air Canada Centre hushed when Marcus Johansson scored 6:31 into overtime Sunday, giving the Washington Capitals a 2-1 win and eliminating the Maple Leafs in six games in the Eastern Conference First Round.
But as the Maple Leafs consoled goaltender Frederik Andersen, the fans applauded. As the players looked up at the scoreboard screen for a replay of the winning goal, the fans chanted, "Go Leafs Go!"
"It gives you goose bumps, even after it ended right there, just how loud the building got for us," Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk said. "They know how far we've come and the effort we've put forth. We're proud to play for this city and for those fans. I think there's a bright future for us."
A year ago, the Maple Leafs missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the 10th time in 11 seasons. They finished 30th in the NHL standings, dead last.
And here they were as the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference, facing a team that had won the Presidents' Trophy as the League's top regular-season team for the second straight season, a popular pick to win it all.
It was a matchup that would have been No. 8 vs. No. 1 in the old seeding system, a mismatch on paper and in pixels, and it wasn't a mismatch at all.
It was a classic.
The Maple Leafs and Capitals played six one-goal games. Five went to overtime, tying the NHL record for a playoff series. The Capitals scored 18 goals, the Maple Leafs 16. The Maple Leafs took 213 shots, the Capitals 211.
Game 6 highlights are below...
It will be Washington against Pittsburgh in the second round
from Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star,
Mike Babcock could not have been making a guarantee, if only because to guarantee a win in this series is like guaranteeing you’ll win a coin flip.
The Toronto Maple Leafs had just lost Game 5 and fallen behind Washington 3-2 in the series, and the Leafs coach said, “We’ve been in overtime four times, it’s a good competitive series, we believe we still have a chance to win, and that’s what we’re gonna do.”
But, no guarantees. This series has been a prizefight with your shadow, and the difference between these two teams is that the Washington Capitals have scored the last goal. Sixty-four seconds into OT the Capitals executed a perfect zone entry that ended with Justin Williams beating Frederik Andersen from the slot. The final score was 2-1, and can eliminate Toronto Sunday night.
“It’s a game of inches,” said Toronto’s Auston Matthews, who scored Toronto’s lone goal six minutes into the second period. “Especially at this point of the season, in the playoffs, it’s just one shot. If it’s in their net, maybe the series is 3-2 us. It’s just a game of inches.”
“Mr. Game 7,” said Ovechkin, referring to Williams. “It’s all it takes. One shot and we get the (series) lead.”
Below, catch the game highlights...
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
The playoff pressure pendulum that was stuck on the Washington Capitals for the past two games is now bearing down on the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Their skate-like-crazy, throw-pucks-at-the-net, see-what-happens style made the Leafs the talk of the NHL for the first week of the playoffs.
But now that the Capitals gave them a good lesson on playoff hockey in Game 4 – yes, the Leafs made it close near the end but that was only on the scoreboard – it is time to see if the roller-coaster team really is ready to stay ahead of the rebuilding plan and finish this upset, which looked so close until the Caps tied the first-round series with that 5-4 win on Wednesday.
Roundup: The latest news and results from the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs
The best-of-seven series is now a best-of-three, with two games in Washington. The Leafs have more than a chance to win but that means once again bouncing back against the best regular-season team in the league. Game 5 may well decide this, since the winner gets a 3-2 lead, one game from ending it in what is a battle of the psyches as much as on the ice.
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
The scoreboard read 5-4 and the landmines were scattered everywhere.
About the only victory the Toronto Maple Leafs could claim on Wednesday night is that they managed to pack up and leave Air Canada Centre without stepping on any of them.
There were several different ways a Game 4 loss could have been chalked up as an aw-shucks near-miss, from the 19-3 shots advantage over Washington in the third period to the fact they came within a botched 1-on-4 clearing attempt from forcing overtime.
But the Leafs instead took a deeper level of self-reflection and thus avoided lying to themselves about what really happened here.
“For sure, it is a lost opportunity,” said head coach Mike Babcock. “It doesn’t feel like it – it is. I think Game 1 in their building you could say that, but I didn’t feel like that, I just felt that was a confidence builder for our team. You’re playing a team, they’re the best team in hockey and here you are.
“I thought today was the first time that maybe we weren't scared enough of them and it looked like it because our competition level wasn’t good enough.”
Highlights are below...
Washington did win the game 5-4 over Toronto, but what do you think of this no goal call?
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,.
Call it an overreaction if you will, but this is it. The Alex Ovechkin-era Capitals, perennial playoff underachievers, need to show us what they're truly made of.
"You're going to see our best game tomorrow," Capitals head coach Barry Trotz said Tuesday.
In a series pitting a massively experienced and deeply talented squad versus a wet-behind-the-ears but also very talented team, what's puzzling is that it's the graybeards making more mental mistakes. It's the older team looking like it is lacking confidence, the veteran squad easily rattled by any change in momentum.
Is there just too much riding on this season, which long ago was scripted as the last kick at the can for this roster?
Said a rival Eastern Conference head coach of free agents such as T.J. Oshie, Karl Alzner and Kevin Shattenkirk, "if they don't win it this year, that group is going to be broken up. It seems like they're weighted down. It's almost like they've got to have a come-to-Jesus moment. Maybe it happens with their backs against the wall here. Maybe they get through that and play now. But it seems like that team has the weight of the world on them."
from Dan Steinberg of D.C. Sports Bog,
Anyhow, let’s go now to Scott Oake, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. broadcaster who has twice in this series riled up Capitals wingers with provocative intermission questions. Is he feeling sunny about Washington’s chances?
“At this point in this series I think we can conclude that they are crumbling under the weight of their playoff history,” Oake said Tuesday on the “Jeff Blair Show.” “The seed of doubt is in their minds. How can it not be? They’ve never gone past the second round with Alexander Ovechkin. We showed a stat last night that underlined how difficult the Caps have made it on themselves in the playoffs. Now, these are the President’s Trophy winners from each of the last two years, and yet six of [their last] nine playoff games have gone to overtime, and they’ve won two of them....
Not very sunny! Or how about TSN’s Darren Dreger, who appeared on Toronto’s 1050.
“I don’t care what anyone says: I’m certainly willing to give the Toronto Maple Leafs the credit that the Leafs deserve, no doubt about it, but I think the Washington Capitals also need to embrace reality,” Dreger said. “And the reality is, they haven’t even come close to being as good as they should be. … I’m commenting from afar here, but I watched that game pretty closely. Sometimes it’s just the intangible, and the intangible is the want to win. The overtime winner, I mean, that’s just a spectacular play, isn’t it? … So maybe that’s the difference, quite frankly, that type of play, where there just seems to be a will and a relentlessness from the Toronto Maple Leafs that isn’t yet being matched by the Washington Capitals. Maybe that’s it.”
more from both plus other remarks too...
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