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Maple Leafs’ Parade to the Penalty Box Invites Trouble

Although the Toronto Maple Leafs are behind in their series to the Boston Bruins, they are not playing poorly. How can they turn it around?

One glaring issue stands out in the ongoing playoff series between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins: the Maple Leafs struggle on special teams. The Bruins have capitalized on their power-play opportunities through three games, scoring five goals on ten chances. At the same time, the Maple Leafs have only managed to convert once on eleven attempts.

This stark contrast in special teams performance has disadvantaged the Maple Leafs significantly. Boston’s combined special teams percentage far surpassed theirs. It seems that almost half the time the Bruins get a power play, they score.

The Maple Leafs Are Playing Good Hockey Five-on-Five

The importance of disciplined play becomes even more apparent when analyzing the statistics at 5-on-5. Despite holding the edge in shot attempts, shots on goal, and expected goals, the Maple Leafs find themselves on equal footing with the Bruins in scoring.

Related: Maple Leafs Get Good News Ahead of Game 4 vs. Bruins

This parity can be attributed, in part, to the two team’s goaltending performance. While the Bruins’ netminders have posted impressive numbers, Ilya Samsonov of the Maple Leafs has struggled. He’s allowed nine goals on 86 shots for a save percentage of just 0.895%. While their strong performance at even strength gives the Maple Leafs hope they can win the series, they also need improved goaltending from Samsonov.

Ilya Samsonov and Max Domi Maple Leafs penalty struggles

If the Maple Leafs hope to turn the tide in this series, they must address their deficiencies on special teams. The simple fact is that the Maple Leafs must minimize time spent in the penalty box. They specifically need to be judicious in their resolve not to get sucked into Brad Marchand‘s antics or allow him to get into their heads. Thus far, they have failed in that attempt. Max Domi (specifically) needs to think straight about the team’s overall goal.

Can the Maple Leafs Turn This Into a Five-on-Five Series?

If the Maple Leafs can make this a five-on-five series, they have a good chance to win. Their corporate resolve to focus on the logical task of winning rather than focusing more on payback could be the key to the win.

It’s not that complex an issue. However, it will be crucial in the Maple Leafs’ quest for victory against the Bruins.

Related: Three Takeaways from Maple Leafs’ 4-2 Loss to the Bruins

[Note: I want to thank my often co-author Stan Smith for his insights on this post.]

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