Game 3 and 4 had a very different look than game 1 and 2. The Toronto Maple Leafs were playing really well but a few of them made mistakes that cost goals. The Boston Bruins are doing everything right they are using their strengths and capitalizing on the mistakes they know the Leafs are going to make. In my opinion there are a couple of things the Leafs could do in order to better their chances at winning this series (fair warning I am going to go off on Kessel).
The first thing I wanted to see was already changed going into game 4. Clarke MacArthur was put back in the lineup and Ryan Hamilton was the healthy scratch. I do not understand why Hamilton played in the last 2 games and MacArthur didn’t. As much as I adore Hamilton the playoffs are not the time to give the kid from the AHL a shot, you are always better to go with the guy who has been with the team all season, but I think MacArthur’s goal said all that for me.
Secondly, Phil Kessel should not be on the first line. Yes, I said it, again. I know I’m probably starting to sound like a broken record but he isn’t a first line guy. Kessel cannot pass, a failed pass cost a goal in game 3 and there were many more in that game and game 4 that cost the Leafs puck possession. The difference between the passing between the Joffrey Lupul, Tyler Bozak, Matt Frattin line and any line involving Kessel is remarkable. The second thing about Kessel is that he is a one-trick pony and Tuukka Rask has figured out the trick. Rask knows he is going to try to go high glove side so every time Kessel is gunning for the net Rask takes it away leaving the whole blocker side completely open. Rather than shoot at the open net Kessel shoots wide causing a rebound off the boards which usually results in Bruins puck possession.
Lastly, something needs to be done about the amount of times I shouted this name at the television in frustration: Dion Phaneuf. Phaneuf should not be playing 31 minutes a game. He gets tired and thinks he’s better than he is, which causes him to try and make hits in overtime that cost goals. Jake Gardiner should have been the one to pick up the slack when Mark Fraser was injured. Gardiner was on fire last night, he was the Jake that I know and love. I had the privilege of watching him play at the beginning of the season, during the lock-out, pre-concussion and it was unbelievable. He was a man playing with the boys. He has this calmness and intuition that makes it so he knows when to stay back and when to join in on the play. Phaneuf doesn’t have that, Gardiner should be playing more minutes than him.