Leafs limp home after Beantown Beatdown: ‘We can try and change the story’

The Toronto Maple Leafs had designs on a long playoff run when they boarded Wednesday’s flight to Boston, confident of their chances ahead of a first-round series with the Bruins after a record-breaking regular season.

Now they’re simply looking for a way — any way, really — to slow down a juggernaut that’s bashed them around in two crushing defeats to open their best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal.

Losses of 5-1 and 7-3 at TD Garden have the Leafs in an 0-2 hole as they prepare to host what amounts to a must-win Game 3 at Air Canada Centre on Monday.

Toronto isn’t done yet, but a lot has to change in 48 hours following an embarrassing beatdown in Beantown.

“We were outplayed for two games,” Leafs defenceman Ron Hainsey said after Saturday’s blowout. ”If you add it up, it’s 12-4 over six periods. We deserve every bit of criticism far and wide. Good news is, story’s not totally written yet.

“We can try and change the story.”

A place to start would be getting in the way of Boston’s top line of David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, which has combined for a stunning 20 points in 120 minutes of action.

Heading into Sunday, Pastrnak led the playoffs in scoring with nine points, including three goals and three assists in Game 2, followed by Marchand’s six points and Bergeron’s five.

The trio has dominated at both ends of the ice with speed, skill and relentless puck pursuit, highlighted by Saturday’s frenetic first period where they put up a goal and five assists in a 10-minute span to help Boston build a 4-0 lead.

In addition to stellar play in the offensive zone, and there’s been plenty, they’ve also shut down the Leafs’ No. 1 line led by Auston Matthews, which has been held off the scoresheet.

Toronto will likely try to get Matthews away from Boston’s top unit with the last change at home, but the absence of the suspended Nazem Kadri, who isn’t eligible to return until a potential Game 5 back in Boston, means Pastrnak, Marchand and Bergeron won’t have to deal with the Leafs’ best two-way forward.

“It obviously hasn’t gone the way we want,” Toronto head coach Mike Babcock said. ”We’re a way better team than what we showed.”

The Leafs set franchise records for wins (49), home wins (29) and points (105) this season, but their speedy roster has been unable to get separation against the Bruins (50 wins, 112 points) in the battle of Atlantic Division foes.

Special teams have also been a disaster, with Boston’s power play having connected on five of 10 opportunities. When including Toronto’s final five games of the regular season, opponents have scored 11 times with the man advantage in the last seven outings.

The Leafs’ power play, meanwhile, has had decent zone time, but a late consolation goal in Game 2 is all they have to show for their seven chances after registering an NHL-best 32.5 per cent success rate since the end of January.

Toronto was brimming with confidence after winning three of four meetings between the teams in the regular season, but are now pointed in the direction of a disastrous end.

“Their power play’s playing well, our penalty kill, not so much,” Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly said. ”Their penalty kill’s playing well, and our power play, not so much. Beyond that, our defensive zone can be better, we can get through the neutral zone better.

“There’s a lot of things that we’ve got to work on.”

And if they don’t, a much longer off-season that anyone expected even five days ago could be just over the horizon.

Just Posted

Alberta premier unhappy with Suzuki honorary degree but defends academic freedom

EDMONTON — Premier Rachel Notley says she does not agree with the… Continue reading

Sylvan Lake wants to create year-round tourist season

Public open house and workshops held May 10-12

Historical bylaws show a different Lacombe

Staff combed through records to find hundreds of outdated bylaws still on the books

Gravel companies facing fee increase

Red Deer County considering raising levy charged to gravel companies for road repairs

Excessive dog poop on Blackfalds ball diamonds frustrates town

Melting snow in Blackfalds uncovered ball diamonds full of dog poop, frustrating… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer students get active, healthy

Healthy Active Schools Symposium takes place in schools

Poll: Advocate readers support Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

Red Deer Advocate readers want the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion to be… Continue reading

Celebrate all women this Mother’s Day in Central Alberta

A breakfast fundraiser is scheduled May 12 in Lacombe

Photo: Poplar Ridge Grade 6 class learn about newspapers

Red Deer Advocate editor Crystal Rhyno visited the school on Wednesday

‘The Heat’ doc examines gender barriers for top female chefs

TORONTO — In making a documentary about top female chefs, Toronto filmmaker… Continue reading

Hank Azaria willing to stop voicing Apu on ‘The Simpsons’

NEW YORK — Hank Azaria is ready to stop voicing Kwik-E-Mart owner… Continue reading

US stocks mostly fall in wobbly trading as costs, rates rise

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks are wobbling and trading mostly lower Wednesday… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month