Toronto Maple Leafs: The need for speed

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 10: Patrick Marleau
TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 10: Patrick Marleau /

Game 2 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins is on Saturday night. What do the Buds need to do to get back on track?

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs did not go how the Toronto Maple Leafs expected. They did not start on time, got outplayed, and took way too many penalties. To make matters worse, Nazem Kadri has now been suspended for three games after his hit on Bruins’ forward, Tommy Wingels.

The team that Mike Babcock will ice on Saturday night will look very different and hopefully, they change for the better. The Leafs need to get it through their heads that every minute of every game counts. They need to play like they care.

Auston Matthews‘ line was absolutely stifled by Patrice Bergeron and company. With the addition of Leo Komarov, they are now more defensively sound but also, there’s a layer of physicality and pest-ness.

Patrick Marleau has played center with the Leafs before, with a 52.2 faceoff percentage. With Zach Hyman added onto that line, they are much faster and physical.

The Bruins’ fourth line outplayed the Leafs’ fourth line all game on Thursday night, but now with the addition of Andreas Johnsson, the scales might tip into Toronto’s favour. They are now fast, mobile, and still defensively responsible.

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As mentioned in a previous article, the Leafs’ greatest playoff asset is their speed. Babcock’s thinking behind these new lines plays exactly into their strongest weapon. Every line is now fast and will be a handful to defend against.

The Bruins play a much more physical brand of hockey and if the Leafs try to play copycat, they will be in big trouble. In Game 1, Boston quickly got under Toronto’s skin, which was exactly their game plan.

This led to careless penalties and Leafs’ forwards taking themselves out of the play to finish a check. Even worse, it led to Kadri’s suspension.

If the Leafs want to find success, they need to stop letting Boston dictate the game and take matters into their own hands. They have the speed to skate rings around the Bruins and it is time to use their greatest skill.

The Kadri suspension could mean the end of the season for the Maple Leafs, or it can be a turning point. This team has shown their resiliency and this is just a new challenge they have to overcome.

Next: Impact of Nazem Kadri's suspension

How confident are you ahead of Game 2? Will the Toronto Maple Leafs tie the series 1-1, or fall behind 2-2? Share your predictions and reasoning in the comments section below.