Maple Leafs blow lead, draw Capitals in first round

Ross Houston
April 10, 2017

On one hand, the Bruins are an experienced team with depth, tons of great players and a set of peripheral statistics that suggest they are way, way better than their record. "Once you get in, anything can happen. It's a matter of doing it consistently and doing it the right way".

(AP Photo/Winslow Townson). A trainer tends to injured Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo after he was hit by Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Boston on Saturday, April 8, 2017.

Kadri, Gardiner, Bozak, Riemsdyk and Leo Komarov are the only remaining members of the Leafs last playoff team in 2013.

Here's how things stand with the three teams that can still access the Eastern Conference's final wild card spot. Rielly admitted there were times it was no fun reporting for work.

Game 1 is expected to be Thursday night in Washington with Game 2 Saturday before the series shifts to Toronto, which Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner expects to present a "bonkers" atmosphere. "But it's all part of the grind".


The Caps went 2-1 vs the Leafs this year, losing 4-2, winning 6-5 in OT and then winning 4-1 the other night, in a victory that helped set up this matchup.

"So we did it". Despite a 5-1-1 run, Philadelphia will miss the playoffs for the third time in five seasons.

Shanahan and general manager Lou Lamoriello shifted the rebuild job into a higher gear this season after the last-place finish in 2015-16 netted first overall draft pick Auston Matthews.

It was Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and the emergence of a historic rookie class that truly catapulted the Leafs from last season's tiresome misery into the post-season.

But thanks to the NHL's sometimes-two-and-sometimes-three-point game system, the other complicated scenarios above are still in play. No one will be surprised if Marner or Nylander are finalists behind Matthews. The Leafs registered a 26-point gain heading into Sunday. The organization has been dramatically overhauled since with Brendan Shanahan taking over as president, Mike Babcock as head coach and Lou Lamoriello as general manager. They finished the season 32-7-2 at the Verizon Center, marking the franchise record for home wins in a season. "Being around everyone on a day-to-day basis is often an area where you have to be comfortable". I thought we started real good, I thought we were on it good and then as soon as something goes wrong we're tight again and got in our own way for a bit.


"We didn't have any margin for error, and now our margin of error is razor thin", said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. His arrival near the trade deadline on February 27 to bolster the Leafs' fourth line and leadership group was a sign management decided the team was a playoff contender ahead of schedule. "I expect him to be ready for practice tomorrow". "So it's not just year-to-year you get better".

Even in a profession rife with obsessive characters, Babcock is a driven sort.

Then there was Kasperi Kapanen, his first National Hockey League goal and point a few minutes earlier tying the game at three.

Nylander noted that his side had "nothing to lose going into the series" and Babcock observed something similar ahead of the game against Columbus when asked about pressure on his young team.


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