After Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares was transported to hospital final night time in the course of the first interval of the workforce’s playoff opener (he’s since been launched because it was introduced he suffered a concussion), the sport end result was secondary, which seems like a wierd factor to say.
The Leafs fell 2-1 to the Montreal Canadiens of their first playoff matchup in opposition to one another since 1979. A lot for the division-winning Leafs waltzing proper by means of the fourth-seeded Habs.
It’s so uncommon that shedding a playoff sport in a better of seven — to your eldest rival, no much less — is the subordinate level of the sport story, however how may it not be?
It’s unlikely Tavares can be out there for the Leafs anytime quickly, as he’s nonetheless a protracted away from being cleared to play.
Right here’s what the Leafs have to do to beat the absence of #91.
1. The star gamers want to provide
A William Nylander aim was a welcome addition to final night time’s circus of a sport. However each Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner have been held pointless on the night.
It is only one sport, in fact, and even the very best gamers can’t convert on each likelihood. They only have to get going if the Leafs are hoping to win this sequence.
If the Marner/Matthews combo begins scoring like they’re identified to do, that’s the simplest enhance for Toronto’s possibilities at tying up the sequence.
2. Foligno must show why Leafs traded for him
After Tavares’ damage, Foligno stepped up and went by means of a little bit of a combat that was extra like a brief sparring session in opposition to Corey Perry.
If Foligno scores only one aim this sequence, households throughout Ontario will explode.
Exterior of the traumatic expertise of seeing a captain and a teammate get sidelined in such a devastating manner, head coach Sheldon Keefe and the Leafs nonetheless have an entire remainder of the sequence to get by means of.
Right here’s how the Leafs lined up at follow, per Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston:
Alex Galchenyuk slots in for his first profession Leafs playoff sport, whereas Foligno is bumped as much as the second line centre function in Tavares’ absence. There’ll doubtless by no means be a better check as a Leaf for Foligno than proper now.
Pierre Engvall slots in on the third line for Riley Nash.
3. Jack Campbell must sustain his type
In his first profession playoff begin, Jack Campbell performed nicely sufficient to win most Leafs video games. He did let within the winner within the third interval on a pleasant shorthanded aim from Paul Byron, however made 28 of 30 stops in a fairly strong efficiency.
Sadly for the Leafs, they didn’t hit the again of the online greater than as soon as. Campbell missed Friday’s follow, doubtless simply to relaxation.
Jack Campbell isn’t on the ice at #leafs follow. Frederik Andersen and David Rittich are the 2 goalies.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) May 21, 2021
If Campbell permits two targets or much less each sport, the Leafs ought to have an incredible likelihood to win the sequence.
4. Sheldon Keefe needs to be artistic
There’s nothing fairly like being thrown a curveball along with your captain being out indefinitely midway by means of your first playoff sport, and no one within the group has their work reduce out for them greater than Sheldon Keefe.
Tavares has missed simply seven video games in his three years as a Leaf. If Foligno works nicely on the second line, nice! But when he doesn’t, Keefe has to determine precisely what the plan is and finest make the most of the remainder of his ahead group.
5. Type out particular groups
There was a aim scored whereas the Leafs have been on the ability play. It was not scored by the Leafs, with Byron’s aim coming whereas the Canadiens have been down a person.
The Leafs additionally took three delay of sport penalties by taking pictures the puck over the glass.
Each are doubtless extra flukes than something, however the Leafs have to win the particular groups battle if they’ve hopes of nonetheless successful this sequence.
Recreation 2 will get underway Saturday night time at 7 pm on CBC and Sportsnet.