The Bergeron line will once again roll into Toronto tonight to make the Leafs and Mike Babcock look foolish….. I assume.
Through 3 games this year:
Patrice Bergeron (1 gp): 1 goal, 3 points
Brad Marchand: 0 goals, 7 points
David Pastrnak: 5 goals, 8 points
Total: 6 goals, 18 points
Rest of their forwards COMBINED!!
6 goals, 10 points
I’ve given up thinking that we’ll see some type of strategy change to shut down the Bruins only line. It’s become obvious to the entire hockey world that if you can keep that line off the scoresheet then you’ll give yourself a very good chance at winning. Head Coach Mike Babcock has all the tools you could ever ask for at his disposal to make this possible as well. Yet, to date, he has refused to line match at home and has refused to change the same strategy he’s used up to this point…. whatever that is.
Don’t get me wrong here, I LOVE Mike Babcock. I believe he can help this team bring the trophy of all trophies home. He’s stubborn enough to stick with things as the ebbs and flows of the season unfolds, but smart enough to change things up when it’s called for (even if that happens far later than most would want). In this particular case he’s making Bruce Cassidy look great though, and he’s doing that by simply doing nothing.
I’m just spit balling here, I’ve never coached an NHL game so maybe if you sat me in a room with all 31 NHL head coaches and I said what I’m about to they’d all laugh me out of there. What if you stacked a line with defensive minded players and just laid it on thick for the Bergeron line tonight? Just for a test? Stop laughing, I’m serious!! Some examples of a line that might fit the bill? I could make an extensive list of lines, because really, are they lacking the personnel?
Left wing: Hyman or Lindholm
Centre: Tavares or Kadri
Right wing: Hyman, Brown, Kapanen or Marner (yes, Marner and yes, this is all their RWers except that guy that everybody hates right now because he is terrible defensively and wouldn’t know the meaning of gritty if he chewed a handful of sand)
My personal favourite after thinking about it might be Tavares between Hyman and Kapanen, but I’d be happy to hear everybody elses take on what a pure defensive line of current leafs would look like.
This almost seems obvious, I know. The real problem I see with it is if you put a line together to DEFEND, then they’re going to defend. As in they may forget to attack. Simple, no?
What if they flipped the script and put out a line that can’t help but push the offense the other way? As in you don’t need to defend if you’re in their end. The corsiest of corsies that ever corsied!! A line that would make The Athletic take a day off so they could all go upstairs and tell grandma the long, arduous story of how they stuck to their numbers and finally, FINALLY!! somebody in the NHL decided to listen!! All while eating Grandmas fresh baked banana bread….. mmmm delicious!! (p.s. Grammy just sits there, confused, because she thought they moved out years ago)
The corsi kings at the moment?
Left wing: Trevor Moore, Andreas Johnsson
Centre: Nazem Kadri, John Tavares
Right wing: William Nylander, Kasperi Kapanen, Mitch Marner
Want to go all-in on this theory? No? Didn’t think so but I’ll tell you the corsi line to rule them all anyway. A line of Trevor Moore and Kasperi Kapanen that’s centered by William Nylander would, apparently, keep the other team off the scoresheet because they’d be too busy defending. Don’t want Wee “Not So Gritty” Willy at centre? Then you would have yourself a line of Johnsson, Kadri and Nylander against the Bruins top unit tonight.
Anyway, enough with the shenanigans. The point is something needs to change and that’s on the coach right now, because continuing on the path that has lead the Bruins to a 2-1 record, with a combined score of 13-8, simply isn’t good enough. So whether it’s Hyman, Tavares and Kapanen that takes the matchup, or Johnsson, Kadri and Nylander, I’d just be happy to see them try something new.
A quick look at the recent practice lines makes me believe I’m about to be disappointed.
That’s my section of “how to win tonight” for the Leafs.
The Bruins section is here.
Just pass it to Pastrnak.
No lineup changes expected from the last game.
Mitchael Hutchinson starts his 5th straight.
Hutchinson and Kaskisuo are Leaf goalies tonight. Hutchinson will make his 5th straight start for Toronto. Mike Babcock says “ he’s given us an opportunity.” #leafsforever
— Paul Hendrick (@HennyTweets) January 12, 2019
Indeed he has Mike, indeed he has!!
#Leafs lines at practice:
— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) January 11, 2019
Those are the practice lines from yesterday, no changes are expected as of now, outside of the goaltending.
My prediction: A sad, sad, 5-3 Bruins final. Hope I’m wrong. What’s yours?
GO LEAFS GO!!