Toronto Maple Leafs Can Put Together One More Win in Boston by Sticking to Plan
So what will it take for the team from T.O. to beat out those Beantowners once and for all?
Toronto has manager to put together a solid series so far by doing three things: utilizing their speed, keeping it physical and collapsing on defense.
The latter of these three points is probably the largest part of their winning strategy. A team can win by scoring on any kind of fluke play, but it is impossible to win if you can't get the puck in the net. Toronto has been very effective at collapsing on their own net when the puck is in the vicinity and following one simple rule: pick up a man.
When collapsing, taking a man is more important than taking the puck. In your own zone, and especially around your net, you have an extra body—the goalie. If you can collapse and pick up an attacker, you leave your goalie with a great look at the puck and a chance to freeze it. Toronto has done this very well, and it was a key reason for their win in Game 6. The Leafs must to do the same in Game 7 if they want to keep up.
Toronto has also utilized both size and speed effectively in their wins over Boston as well.
What is important to remember is that Boston is a tried and tested seven-game-per-round playoff team. They can and will endure. However, the Leafs are young and can use their exuberance to their advantage by keeping it quick. While Boston can endure, it's evident is that they are tiring. Toronto players had more "pep in their step" Sunday, and if this carries into tomorrow, Boston is in trouble.
The final key here is the focus on the physical play that Toronto has kept up through the series. Hitting the Bruins prevents them from running away with the puck like they do to so many teams. Boston's process is typically to physically dominate you, wear you down, make you respect everything they do, then control the play and take you out on the score sheet.
Toronto simply has not let this happen. They've stayed physical against the Bruins and have demanded they respect their hits. This keeps them more tentative on the puck and less likely to take chances across open ice that they do so often. Zdeno Chara, specifically, has been held out of plays and appeared more like "just another player."
In the end, this is going to be a battle. Boston is going to come out strong, and they're going to try and push Toronto around. If the Leafs can withstand this push and can continue what has led them to success through the first six games, they can definitely pull out a Game 7 win over what looks to be a tiring Bruin team. No matter what, this should be an exciting "winner takes all" matchup.
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