Yup, it happened again.
The Leafs lost by blowing another “playoff” 3-0 lead.
I’m not going to talk about the same stuff everyone else is talking about e.g. mental toughness, resilience, maturity, etc…
The one thing I really noticed was the talent gap between players on the Leafs.
You have Martin Marincin, who – god bless him – sometimes looks like a fish out of water.
Or you have Cody Ceci, who it’s clear no forwards on the Leafs trust to make a half-skilled play.
Then you have Mitch Marner finding his game and weaving his way through all 5 CBJ players to make dazzling plays.
And AM34 doing his thing.
This isn’t something that I’ve heard talked about before, but it’s real.
How do I know?
I’ve been there.
I’ve played at decent levels of hockey and when I’m out there with shitty players, I play down to their level i.e. shittier.
How frustrating it must be for Morgan Reilly to receive passes in his skates from Cody Ceci all game, or for him to expect Ceci to be somewhere and he’s not.
When I’m out there with better players, I tend to play up to their level.
So the consistency problem where the Leafs look amazing one night and like a train-wreck the other may be a result of this skill gap between the top (#34, 16 especially) and the bottom (#83, #52).
Columbus is a consistent team and they definitely don’t have as large a skill gap.
Some takeaways here could be:
a) Play Rasmus Sandin instead of MarMar and let the kid play with the Top 3 forward lines, because they’ll trust him to get them the puck in places they can do something with it.
b) Keep the Goat in the press box. Sorry buddy.
c) Get Ceci as far away from Reilly as possible – stick his ass on the 3rd D pair and play him with the 3rd and 4th lines as much as possible.
Some final random notes:
- Willy looks scared to forecheck, definitely not dominant. Was a sweet goal though.
- Mikheyev is definitely not living up to all the pre-season hype he got.
- Can someone please tell Tyson Barrie to stop waving at the puck with one hand on his stick?