The Toronto Maple Leafs lost the lead in the series last night as they fell short of forcing Game 4 into overtime as the Boston Bruins scored the empty-net goal with two seconds remaining in a 6-4 victory and tied the first round series at 2.
Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy gets a lot of the credit for the win after he made a drastic change, moving star forward David Pastrnak down a rung in the lineup. Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, and Patrice Bergeron played but two shifts together at even-strength and the whole lineup was boosted by the coach’s brilliant decision.
The same cannot be said about Leafs bench boss Mike Babcock. The head coach has been criticized since the final buzzer of the game for not using star centre Auston Matthews more, especially in the final moments on the game where a tying goal was needed to push the contest in OT.
Top insiders needed to talk about this as fans reacted on social media.
“This is not working, started off Elliottte Friedman right after the game while waiting for the Flames-Avalanche game to start on the Sportsnet broadcast. “The Nylander, Marleau and Brown, it’s just not working, it’s not giving them the offense they need. I’d like to see them play Moore a bit more. He played under eight minutes today and he is starting to look like a factor in this series, running over guys, and causing problems. I think Nick’s issue is not so much the time but his deployment at this specific time. I think if Toronto loses this series, they’re going to look at this game and they’re going to say this is the one we had to had."
His colleague Nick Kypreos went straight for the jugular.
“It’s just, if you’re going to make adjustments make sure it is not chasing and you’re down two or three goals and it’s a last minute reaction. Matthews should be on the ice at that moment.”
Fans couldn’t agree more. In the last minute of play with an empty net and an extra player on the ice, Matthews is no where to be seen on the attack. It isn’t the first time this season the Sportsnet panel goes after Babcock for his decisions with Matthews. Back during the Leafs’ difficult stretch in March, John Shannon had noted that Matthews had played a great first period, however he had been limited to four minutes and 37 seconds of ice time. The insider couldn’t comprehend Babcock’s decision and fans agreed with him.
Here are a few reactions from last night:
Babcock should know that he needs his best players on the ice to get the win. While Friedman suggests giving Trevor Moore more minutes on the ice, we all know that he also wants Matthews to be a factor in the last crucial moments on a series-altering game.