Establish dominance early
As we mentioned in the previous slide, the Leafs cannot let Columbus establish their defensive structure. Watching the three goals they scored late in the game, Toronto had a purpose to their game.
They made sure that they were connecting on more passes that were either getting picked off or bouncing off a defender’s skate. What the Blue Jackets have done well is frustrate the Leafs offensive players by dropping back and limiting the lanes to move and shoot the puck.
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What Sheldon Keefe has also been willing to do is play his superstars when needed but also giving the fourth line a chance to establish themselves into the game and play some of the tougher minutes.
The Leafs’ mindset will be important in the first period considering they received a major boost but they can’t let themselves get overconfident either. An early goal will help the team settle in but they can’t think that it’ll come easily because it hasn’t all series long.
"“[The win] was a huge boost for us,” Keefe told reporters. “It gives us great positive momentum. The enjoyment that I saw from our team is beyond anything I’ve seen from us. The moment reflected that. “But while we have to bring that momentum forward with us, we have to realize that this is a new game and we have to have a better start than we did yesterday. And we have to recognize the opposition is going to reset themselves. Both teams are going to leave it all out there tomorrow.”"
Whether or not Zach Werenski will play is going to be a big storyline in the game but one thing that can’t let the Leafs think is that things will be easier if he can’t suit up. As we have come to find out in this series, the team that has the right mindset from start to finish has been the one to come out on top.
What are you looking to see in Game 5? Can the Leafs pull off the victory? Let us know in the comments below.