HomeNHLMaple Leafs’ Takeaways: Spezza, Sandin & Shutting Down Suzuki
Maple Leafs’ Takeaways: Spezza, Sandin & Shutting Down Suzuki
May 23, 2021
It was a traditional Saturday night time matchup between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens in Toronto and this time the Maple Leafs got here out on the successful finish within the second recreation of their first-round playoff collection.
Whereas the Maple Leafs have been with out John Tavares following the scary incident in Recreation 1, the Canadiens got here into the sport with out the likes of Jake Evans who was compelled to overlook the sport with an damage he suffered within the opening affair.
Riley Nash was additionally taken out of the Maple Leafs lineup, with Pierre Engvall and Alex Galchenyuk each slotting in, whereas Jesperi Kotkaniemi took to the ice for Montreal in Recreation 2 rather than Evans.
Whereas the ultimate rating might need proven a 5-1 win for the Maple Leafs, the sport performed on the ice was a lot nearer than some would possibly count on. Actually, had the Maple Leafs not tallied two energy play targets, it could have been extra of a 3-1 recreation for the blue and white.
Nonetheless, it’s our job to interrupt down the sport and choose away elements that we predict are integral to the end result of this recreation. With that, right here’s a take a look at what may be taken away from Recreation 2.
Classic Spezza Steps Up
For many who missed it, in Recreation 1, Spezza continued to talk to Tavares as he was helped on the ice. Spezza talked about that he may see that Tavares was confused, however that he appeared to be choosing up on the veteran’s voice. A transfer, solely an integral teammate would notice.
Now, quick ahead to only over 12 minutes into Recreation 2 and the 37-year-old Spezza tallied his first aim and level within the playoffs as a member of the Maple Leafs. The way you ask?
It was easy. Spezza jumped onto the ice skated into the offensive zone earlier than wiring residence a slapshot from excessive within the slot to tie the sport. It was classic Spezza, however his play all through the sport was way more vital than simply that aim.
He performed over 12 minutes of ice-time. 4 minutes on the staff’s energy play. And he had two takeaways to associate with his two hits and 5 photographs on aim. He additionally had a collision close to the top of the primary with Corey Perry – whose shin collided with Tavares in Recreation 1 – that had Canadiens followers steaming on social media.
That’s the definition of a veteran who got here to play – and had an affect on the end result of the sport.
Sandin Making Most of Alternative
From older to youthful, Rasmus Sandin has taken over not just for Travis Dermott within the Maple Leafs lineup, however for Morgan Rielly on the highest energy play unit. And it’s beginning to repay.
Sandin noticed 14:32 of ice-time on Saturday with simply over 5 minutes of energy play time. He had a blocked shot, a takeaway and two photographs on aim – together with his blast 13 minutes into interval quantity two. It was simply his second NHL aim and first within the playoffs, however it’s creating extra doubt that he’ll be popping out of the Maple Leafs’ lineup anytime quickly.
Associated: Maple Leafs’ Matthews Praises Rasmus Sandin’s Play
Sandin’s aim was the primary of two energy play tallies for the Maple Leafs on Saturday on six alternatives. It was simply the second time since March 3 that the Maple Leafs have scored two energy play targets in a recreation.
Whereas Rielly has been demoted to the second unit – in the interim – Sandin has made each effort to impress the Maple Leafs and their teaching employees. Even at slightly below six toes tall, Sandin has added an edge to his recreation making him a bodily participant in his personal finish.
He wasn’t credited with successful on Saturday, however he did soak up one close to the aim line in his finish on a dump in that just about knocked the offensive participant over – very paying homage to his reverse hit on Blake Wheeler.
Shutting Down Suzuki
On the subject of the Canadiens’ stars, the Maple Leafs have to discover a approach to shut them down offensively in the event that they need to have an opportunity at successful this collection. That features guys like Josh Anderson, Tyler Toffoli, Brendan Gallagher and Nick Suzuki.
On Saturday, these 4 particularly mixed for only one help – a Toffoli apple on the opening aim. But it surely was the Maple Leafs’ capacity to essentially get Suzuki of his recreation which may’ve been probably the most intriguing.
Stu Cowan, from the Montreal Gazette, tweeted out following the sport that Suzuki completed the sport with 18:13 of ice-time. He had no photographs within the recreation and completed with a 23 p.c success fee within the face-off circle.
We noticed earlier within the 12 months what the Maple Leafs have been in a position to do after they held Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl pointless. To have the ability to shut down the Canadiens’ stars would be the largest focus for the Maple Leafs. No factors means they’re counting on their secondary for scoring. No photographs means they will be forcing questionable performs to try to get alternatives.
It could be simpler mentioned than achieved, however the Maple Leafs might be onto one thing with how they held Suzuki to being irrelevant in Recreation 2.
Additionally Value Noting…
Engvall performed 11 minutes in his return to the lineup. He had 4 photographs and three hits and completed the sport off with a 10-minute misconduct for getting concerned with Shea Weber on the face-off. Galchenyuk was somewhat extra quiet in his practically 12 minutes of ice-time, however he made himself related creating alternatives alongside the board within the Montreal finish.
The Maple Leafs gave up only one energy play alternative on this recreation. Whereas there have been some issues that would’ve been referred to as, that the sort of recreation the Maple Leafs have to play – a disciplined recreation – in the event that they need to push the Canadiens to elimination.
As this recreation went on issues acquired much more heated and much more bodily. The rivalry is reaching heights we haven’t seen shortly and it’ll certainly be carried over to Monday’s Recreation 3 in Montreal.
Andrew is in his eighth 12 months reporting for The Hockey Writers masking the Toronto Maple Leafs. He started his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Evening in Canada staff in addition to being a part of their protection of the 2014 Winter Olympic Video games in Sochi. He’s the previous play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and presently hosts the Sticks within the 6ix podcast. You may comply with him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.