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Category: Toronto-Maple-Leafs

Time For The Washington Capitals To Show Up And Play

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."

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Forecast, Not Sunny In Washington

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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Back To The Drawing Board For The Washington Capitals

from Dan Steinberg of D.C. Sports Bog,

“Can we talk people off the ledge?” Jill Sorenson asked early in Comcast SportsNet’s Caps postgame show Monday night, following Washington’s 4-3 overtime loss in Game 3.

Her question made sense. Vast numbers of the network’s voting audience were saying they were “extremely concerned” now that the Capitals had gone down two games to one against the underdog Maple Leafs. Fans online were mostly immolating themselves in a blind rage. The most optimistic of them were saying that even if the Capitals came back to win this series, they would be in trouble against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the next round. There were too many references to Washington’s tortured past to count.

So, uh … can we talk people off the ledge?

Analyst Alan May gave it a go, talking about how the Caps need to move the puck faster, play with more urgency, be crisper in clearing their zone and make fewer mistakes. Then it was Brent Johnson’s turn.

“I can’t take it,” he said. “I can’t force anyone to step off the ledge. I truly can’t. The only reason why is because this isn’t the regular season. How many times can you win the Presidents’ Trophy, over and over? They have the character in the dressing room, but you’re facing the Toronto Maple Leafs, night in, night out. You know their game plan. You know what they’re going to do. You have to hit the drawing board and figure out what you’ve got to do to go against that, to shake them off their game.”

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Videos- You Want OT Goals?

All four OT goals from Monday's Stanley Cup Playoff games...

 

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Anaheim Ducks, Nashville Predators, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Fast Forward To The Eastern Conference Final With Toronto And Montreal

from Jack Todd at the Montreal Gazette,

Nazem Kadri is a nasty piece of work and Auston Matthews has all the personality of a boiled turnip — but Mitch Marner is a treat to watch and the Leafs have as much young talent as any team in the game. And if they’re able to pull off the upset against a pretty good Washington team, I’ll have to admit Mike Babcock is not what I’ve always thought him to be: one of the most over-rated coaches in the game.

So why would a Maple Leafs win in this series sicken much of this country and why would a series win against the Canadiens or a Stanley Cup for Toronto be so mortifying?

Let’s go back to Game 2 of the Habs-Rangers series. With the Canadiens trailing 3-2 at the break after the second period, the broadcast cut to the crew based in (where else) Toronto — and Nick Kypreos went into an astonishing rant attacking Montreal’s Alexander Radulov for taking a penalty and (allegedly) not showing up for the series.

Kypreos went so far as to claim Radulov was jeopardizing his chances for a long-term contract by playing the way he was and by taking stupid penalties. Now this is what you get when you ask a Leafs cheerleader to “analyze” a Canadiens game. Kypreos was clearly biased and completely wrong: Radulov’s long-term deal is already a certainty (if the Canadiens don’t sign him, someone else will) and in any case, the charismatic Russian would finish the night with three points and score the winning goal in overtime.

There’s the rub: the 24/7, 365-day-a-year Toronto media obsession with the Maple Leafs at the expense of the six other Canadian teams and the inherent bias in virtually all the broadcasts, whether we’re talking about programs like Hockey Central, in-game commentary or studio analysis. 

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Morning Line

“This is insane. Insane.”

“Dude, I almost lit my smoke about 20 minutes ago so that would have been a better picture.”

“What do you mean why’d I almost light it? It’s [bleeping] 3-3, for [bleep’s] sake!”

-Toronto fan Jason Maslakow at the game in Washington.  Dan Steinberg of D.C. Sports Bog has more.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

The Toronto Maple Leafs Won Their First Playoff Game Since 2013

from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,

“Unreal,” said William Nylander as he made his way to the bus on the wrong side of midnight.

All of it.

Kasperi Kapanen’s winning goal in double overtime and the pass of Brian Boyle’s life to create it. Or how about the fact Kapanen won a faceoff against Evgeny Kuznetsov 20 seconds before scoring in what was the first recorded faceoff attempt of his entire NHL career?

The young Leafs came into Verizon Center, a building where the Washington Capitals lost all of nine times this season, and allowed the Presidents’ Trophy winners to lead for a grand total of three minutes 19 seconds.

Over two games.

“Two overtime games,” Boyle said after Saturday’s 4-3 victory. “That’s kind of baptism by fire for some of these guys and that’s a great thing for them. A great opportunity for them to have.”

This was a night where the Leafs could truly start dreaming of pulling off an upset in this series.

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Video- Roman Polak Injury

Follow Polak's right leg, foot/ankle.

 

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Afternoon Line- Mike Babcock On Nicklas Backstrom

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The Leafs Drop Game 1 To The Capitals

from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,

Just as they did for most of the season, the rebuilt version of the Toronto Maple Leafs figuratively thumbed their noses at the doubters and came out flying for their NHL playoff debut.

There was no sign of nerves from the start on Thursday night and for almost two periods and then parts of a third, the young Leafs had the Washington Capitals, the NHL’s best team in the regular season but one with a shaky playoff past, nervous and on the ropes.

But it wasn’t quite good enough. The Washington Capitals fought back from a two-goal disadvantage to subdue a determined group of Leafs with a 3-2 overtime win in the first game of their Eastern Conference first-round series. Tom Wilson won the game with a long shot that eluded Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen, who deserved better, at 5:15 of the first overtime period. It was Wilson’s first career playoff goal.

It was a long shot that seemed to catch Andersen off-guard and drifted into the top corner. Yes, it was a whiff but without Andersen’s excellence in the previous 65 minutes and change, the Leafs would not have made it that far. He stopped 41 shots, while his counterpart with the Capitals, Braden Holtby, made 35 saves.

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About Kukla's Korner Hockey

Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com

 

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