As shown throughout this series, it’s going to take a near perfect effort from the Toronto Maple Leafs to beat the Boston Bruins. In Games 1 and 3 the Leafs constantly turned the puck over and the Bruins easily capitalized for victories. When Toronto cut out the majority of the mistakes in Game 2, they were able to come away with a win.
In addition to eliminating errors, the Leafs could improve their chances of winning the series greatly if they can get some secondary scoring. Toronto has had virtually no production from anyone other than Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul, and James van Riemsdyk. The trio have combined for six of the seven goals the Leafs have posted in the series, yet the Leafs are only down 2-1.
The two players that need to be difference makers tonight are Nazem Kadri and Mikhail Grabovski. Kadri has scored just one time in his past 15 games, while Grabovski is dealing with an even worse slump at one goal in his last 19.
Although Grabovski’s struggles have been longer and have actually gone on for much of the season, there is more reason to be concerned with Kadri. Grabovski has been skating very well throughout the series and has generated plenty of scoring opportunities. His rush up the ice that setup the beautiful Game 2 clinching goal by van Riemsdyk is evidence that he is finding his legs.
Kadri on the other hand has been almost non-existent for the first three games. Other than a nice pass to Kessel that put him on a breakaway in Game 2, Kadri has looked hesitant and hasn’t been able to create much offense. After sliding back to the third line in the playoffs, it would be nice to see Randy Carlyle put Kadri and Lupul back together for a few shifts to see if that can spark the young centre.
The Leafs have some favourable matchups once you move down the depth chart as far as the forwards are concerned. The good news for Toronto is that they arguably outplayed Boston in Game 3 and if they can cut out the mistakes, tying the series is more than realistic. When the Leafs can dictate the pace they have been a tough opponent all year thanks to three different lines that can produce offense. If they don’t remember what brought them to the dance and correct it quickly, their appearance in the 2013 post-season will be brief.