The Leafs played their best game of the season, blasting the Bruins 6-1. They were flying on all cylinders, consistently out-working the Bruins.
The biggest improvement in the Leafs' game was physical. They would not let the Bruins push them around. They were sticking up for each other, and maybe even getting in to the Bruins players' heads. Too many times in recent games, the Leafs were letting the opposition get into their heads.
Play Smart, Put Out the Effort.
The Leafs were playing smart, not making bonehead plays. Less selfish play, and more team play. This game, the Leafs were hitting and egging the Bruins on. They need more of that play within their game. In the past they were often lazy, not willing to make the reach, instead tripping up, taking the easy way. But tonight, the Leafs were energetic, taking bull by the horns, and forcing the play instead of being forced.
When was the last time the Leafs connected three goals on the power play? It was a very pleasant change. The biggest improvement was the passing. They were precise and accurate. It wasn't the blind passing of the past where someone was suppose to be there, but nobody told him.
The less mind-reading the better! The players really seemed to be on the same page. They have to look, to know when to shoot and when to pass.
In a nutshell, Bernier was outstanding, stopping the Bruins from everywhere. He was focused and didn’t let the big, bad Bruins take him off of his game. He was the stable influence in the Leafs' zone. He made the first save and controlled the rebounds.
Bernier's play can influence other parts of the Leafs' game. If Bernier can be more consistent in his play, this will really help the defense’s psyche. Lately, the defense has been walking on eggshells, not trying to make mistakes. If Bernier can show them he has their back, fewer mistakes will be made. Simply put, defense will not have to be perfect. They can relax, knowing that one mistake won't necessarily be disastrous.
Defense has to be smarter
There are still way too many times defense is throwing the puck up the middle. The Leafs have to be smarter with the puck and stop the panic plays in the defensive zone. Communication has to be there. They must let each other know when there is trouble.
Forwards Come Back, Give Defensemen Options
The forwards need to get back to the defensive zone. They need to do their jobs. The defense is making blind passes and panicking. They are running out of options. I have observed the forwards heading up the ice too early too many times. Someone has to stay behind to give the Dman a target.
Defense is a team game. The Leafs' defense have been blasted, and rightly so. But the forwards can help. They have been left out to dry too many times.
The Leafs showed us what they are capable of in the mauling of the Bruins Wednesday night. More will be expected of them. The Division is there; the Leafs just have to grab it before anyone else does.
Thanks for reading.