(Sunrise, Florida) It was almost automatic this season with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Each match, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, Auston Matthews or even John Tavares would register for the brand.
It still was – at least until the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.
After three games against the Florida Panthers in this series, the intimidating Toronto foursome are still muzzled.
After at least one of them blacked out the scoresheet at least once in 81 of the Leafs’ 88 games this season, Marner, Nylander, Matthews and Tavares have zero goals in this series against the Panthers.
“Bobrovsky,” Panthers head coach Paul Maurice said when asked to explain the Leafs’ scarcity in the simplest way. This is the answer to this question. »
Maurice was then referring to Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who has blocked all shots from the Toronto cannons so far.
Matthews threw 14 shots at Bobrovsky in the first three games of the series. Just like Nylander. Tavares attempted 12. And Marner was limited to nine.
That’s 49 shots in total – and Bobrovsky has been perfect so far. The Panthers lead the series 3-0 after snatching a 3-2 victory in overtime on Sunday. They could now complete the home series sweep on Wednesday night.
“We work really hard,” Marner said. We had our chances. We got our opportunities. But that hasn’t worked in our favor so far. It’s about continuing to work hard, generating a little more traffic around their net and enjoying the rebounds more. »
These statistics, which explain both the successes of the quartet this season and their setbacks since the start of the series, are astonishing.
“All I can do is keep putting them in a position to be successful. That’s my priority, Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said Monday. Then, like the rest of the team, my message is to tell them to control the things they can control and focus on the things that really matter. »
The four big guns of the Leafs have amassed at least 10 points in a game in five occasions this season, scored six goals in a game twice – once late in the regular season against the Montreal Canadiens, then in the first round against the Tampa Bay Lightning – and have never been shut out of the scoresheet in two consecutive games.
In this series, it happened three times in a row – and the sequence is not over.
“They’re all different games,” Maurice said. Game 3 was very difficult for our goaltender… These are playoff games. It’s all about small details. And the attack is omnipresent, because each play becomes dangerous. »
The Panthers, however, did a good job in Game 3 to limit the scoring chances of Marner, Nylander, Matthews and Tavares. Maurice called that hockey is a sport where sometimes a few millimeters can make a big difference between a goal and a shot that misses the target.
“We have to find ways to capitalize more,” admitted Tavares. They are very tight around their net. We just haven’t run the games necessary to get the results we want. »
Maple Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov could miss the next game of the series after suffering an injury in Game 3 when teammate Luke Schenn accidentally tripped him.
Keefe said Monday that Samsonov was feeling better, but added that the Russian keeper was due for magnetic resonance imaging later in the day.
“Fortunately, time is on our side,” Keefe said. We will take this opportunity to get a better idea of his state of health. »
Samsonov is posting a 3.13 GAA and .898 save percentage since the start of the playoffs.
Joseph Woll replaced him in Game 3 and did well, despite the loss.
“He seemed comfortable in goal,” Keefe said of Woll. Our group has confidence in him and he has confidence in his abilities. »