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Three Takeaways from Maple Leafs’ 2-1 Game 4 Win vs Panthers

On Wednesday night, the Toronto Maple Leafs came back to win Game 4 of their Round 2 series. What were the three key takeaways from the game?

The Toronto Maple Leafs are still alive in this series. On Wednesday night, they posted a 2-1 Game 4 win against the Florida Panthers. It was a gritty and determined (and, of course, a crucial) playoff win. Now the teams head back to Canada.

The Maple Leafs staved off one do-or-die situation, and now face three more if they are going to stay alive in this Round 2 series. In the game, the team delivered the kind of performance that fans (and probably their coach) had been waiting for for the past week or so. This team showed their commitment to succeed.

In a thrilling game, the Maple Leafs showcased themselves well. And in this post, I’ll talk about three key takeaways. Could this one win help turn the tide in the series? There’s still a long way to go, but the first step was a success.

Takeaway One: The Maple Leafs Core Came to Life (Finally)

Finally, the Maple Leafs’ offensive firepower came to life. Both Mitch Marner and William Nylander led the charge by scoring their first goals of the series. Marner scored on a shot from distance that eluded everyone and snuck in under the arm of Panthers’ goalie Sergei Bobrovsky. Earlier, Nylander had bounced one off the post and then off Bobrovsky’s back and into the net.

William Nylander, Maple Leafs

Both goals helped these two players (and the Maple Leafs’ offence in general) generate some much-needed scoring. While it was for the sixth game in a row with only two Toronto goals, this time it was enough for the team. In general, the Maple Leafs showed their determination to fight and claw their way back into this series.

Related: With Joseph Woll in Goal, Maple Leafs’ Future Is Now

Takeaway Two: The Maple Leafs Defense Showed Up and Shut Down

In Game 4, the Maple Leafs’ defensive effort was stellar. Specifically, the team displayed a commitment to shot-blocking. In the end, as a group the team sacrificed their bodies to protect their rookie goaltender Joseph Woll in his first postseason NHL start.

Perhaps team members were simply tired of hearing that their defensive efforts were simply not good enough. Whatever the reason, they showed up with a newfound dedication to play solid defensive in front of their young goalie. That Maple Leafs’ defensive resilience and Woll’s solid performance in the crease were huge factors in the team’s first victory of Round 2.

Related: Maple Leafs’ Quick Hits: From Blame to Strategy & Production

Takeaway Three: Have the Maple Leafs Changed the Dynamics?

Obviously, for the Maple Leafs to win this Round 2 series will take a miracle. It’s only happend four times in NHL history (out of the 203 times a team has been down that many games). Let me repeat, a team has been down three games and has come back from being down three games to none to win a series only FOUR times. But one game is a start.

To my mind, the Panthers were talking too much about not feeling any pressure in this series. From my experience, that kind of language comes from a team that has the pressure of the series on its mind. Ironic, right?

Joseph Woll Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender
Can Joseph Woll win three more games?

The Panthers were getting a lot of play from running with the narrative that they were the underdog in this series. That’s tough now when you’re up three games to none (now one) and your next win forces the other team from the sidelines. The underdog narrative doesn’t fit – not any more.

Has the weight of the expectations also shifted? What, for example, would happen to the Panthers should they not be able to pull off this series win? Now the Maple Leafs have risen up to show that they have resilience and can be equally determined. Is it too little and too late?

The Bottom Line

The Game 4 win finally provided the Maple Leafs with a foundation to build upon. The pressure will intensify for both teams as the series returns to Toronto. One win is not a series, and the Maple Leafs need three more. They have to be constantly aware that every game is do-or-die from this point forward. That has to be a challenge. One mistake could end it all.

In the meantime, let the Maple Leafs celebrate a hard-fought win. They now also know what they have to do to win Game 5, and so forth. It’s back to work.

I used to have a great friend who coached Canadian university hockey. He would say that playing defense is simply hard work. Now the hard work continues for the Maple Leafs. They worked hard in Game 4, and they can do it again in Game 5.

The Maple Leafs’ road is filled with challenges as the team strives to keep their postseason dreams alive. Wouldn’t coming back from a three-game deficit be a great story?

Related: Will It Be Time for the Maple Leafs to “Blow It Up Real Good?”

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. getrdone

    May 11, 2023 at 5:43 am

    That was a game that I had expected the Leafs to play to start the playoffs!!!! They were lucky to get by Tampa, And they didn’t show up for the first 3 games against the Panthers. Last night effort is what it takes in every game in the playoffs, after all this is for one of the hardest trophies In all of sport to win, The Leafs just have not been focussed enough to dig this deep, now they know really what is required. Will they bring it again??? We will see.

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  3. gfinale

    May 11, 2023 at 9:21 am

    Coming back to win the series would be a great story BUT let’s keep in mind all of the so called core 5 didn’t show up until the 4th game. Not just one as happens with injury or off somehow but all of them! That’s not just a player having a tough few games, that’s all of them!! They didn’t play defensively, didn’t check, didn’t block, didn’t score, didn’t do anything, all of them! Granted this game they did to an acceptable level but this game was still very close. They very well could have lost and especially because they really aren’t good at keeping a lead and in the dying minutes of a game. This core all did it for themselves, how they looked and for their careers/money in the future.

  4. gfinale

    May 11, 2023 at 9:26 am

    Old Prof, sometimes your articles have some issues that would be caught by second eyes before published. I will offer to read your articles before they are published and send you comments of potential concerns for correction if you wish. I’m good at editing and please realize, although I can seem negative about this team with its poor core and “architect” and we may disagree at times, I’m very positive when editing 😉

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