The Toronto Maple Leafs knew what was coming in their playoff match with the Columbus Blue Jackets, but were unable to get past their stingy defense in a 2-0 loss in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup qualifying round on Sunday. The Leafs are expected to make a few tactical changes and may tinker with their lineup in hopes of a different result in Game 2 of the best-of-five series at Scotiabank Arena on Tuesday afternoon.
Toronto’s high powered offensive attack was limited to only 28 shots and were shutout by Joonas Korpisalo in Game 1, but the Jackets goalie was only tested seriously on three occasions, by rookie Nick Robertson in the first period, and by Auston Matthews and John Tavares late in the game.
Columbus will look to deny the Leafs easy entry into their zone by stacking up at their blueline and force Toronto into playing a dump and chase game that they are not suited for, while the Leafs may attempt to use cross-ice passes to find easier avenues and create offensive chances.
"We've got to give more pucks to the inside into those spaces. It's a lot easier said than done, so we've got to really work in sequences and look to break (the Jackets) down and get them tired." Keefe said on Monday. "We had a few really real quality looks that with a little more luck goes our way, but we need more of them, it's not enough. We just need to stay with it, stay focused, stay hungry, stay competitive and not get frustrated. That's what (the Columbus) system is designed to do, to frustrate you....and we've talked a lot about that. The good news is in talking to our guys and the type of practice that we had is that our guys are not frustrated, our guys are hungry to get back at it and recognize where we can get better."
Columbus will not make any lineup changes for Game 2 and will likely continue to match Seth Jones, Zach Werenski and Pierre-Luc Dubois against Auston Matthews, which puts more emphasis on John Tavares and Mitch Marner to produce against the Jackets second pair of David Savard and Vladislav Gavrikov.
Toronto made a slight change in their lineup in practice at the Ford Performance Centre on Monday. Forward Pierre Engvall took the spot of Frederik Gauthier between Kyle Clifford and Jason Spezza, but Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe would not confirm that the big Swede will step into the lineup on Tuesday.
"Pierre is a guy that for me didn't have a great camp for us. We think he's got a lot more to offer. When he's at his best, we think he makes us a better team, but we haven't seen him at his at his best throughout camp and then even in the little bit of opportunity we gave him an exhibition." Keefe said. "We need him really competitive and physical and skating and doing all the things that he's capable of."
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