Toronto Maple Leafs have Canadiens on ropes after dominant Game 4

William Nylander #88 of the Toronto Maple Leafs scores on goaltender Carey Price #31 of the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
William Nylander #88 of the Toronto Maple Leafs scores on goaltender Carey Price #31 of the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

Looking at the scoresheet after Game 4 and you would think the Toronto Maple Leafs went in a time machine to 10 years in the past.

After the red-hot second line scored to give a 1-0 lead, it was Jason Spezza and Joe Thornton who put forth a trademark performance with a goal each. Considering some of the criticism Thornton has faced for his play (some of it justified) it’s nice to see him get a bit of a confidence boost with the goal.

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Speaking of a confidence boost. You have to think Spezza breathed a massive sigh of relief after missing a glorious opportunity in Game 3.

Of course, the big performer from Game 4 was Alex Galchenyuk who must have taken some extra satisfaction for playing a big part of putting the Montreal Canadiens on their heels. It started with an unbelievable play to set up William Nylander for the opening goal and then adding to the Leafs lead with a great setup to Spezza.

After the game, Sheldon Keefe said it was tough to keep Galchenyuk out of the lineup but he has earned a lot of respect for how he has responded to getting into game action. Going into the playoffs, many pointed to Galchenyuk as one of the ideal players to sit with Zach Hyman coming back and now it’s tough to see him as a scratch candidate if and when Nick Foligno returns.

Toronto Maple Leafs: William Nylander continuues to rewrite his narrative

Four games into the playoffs and only one player has scored in every game of this series for the Leafs.

It’s remarkable to see Nylander play getting recognized as it has especially by those who questioned whether he could be an effective player in the playoffs. One thing that’s clear, Nylander is an integral part of the Leafs’ success and more should be aware and supportive of his play.

Some have questioned Nylander’s desire because he doesn’t bring a physical element and doesn’t provide enough of a consistent defensive effort. It’s becoming clearer that with every strong performance from the 25-year-old, more people start to see how much he wants to win.

The more Nylander continues to produce and carry the offence for the second line, the better the Leafs chances are in the playoffs. It forces teams to show more respect by not focusing on shutting down the top line.

With Game 5 set for Thursday, Toronto needs to remain focused and remember that the Winnipeg Jets are getting some down time after sweeping the Edmonton Oilers. The last thing they want is to give Montreal any belief that they can extend this series considering the Leafs have struggled to avoid elimination games the last few years.

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What were your thoughts on the Leafs performance in Game 4? Do you think they can close out the series in Game 5? Let us know in the comments below.