What changes will Leafs make for Game 3?
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The Toronto Maple Leafs are looking for possible answers after a second lopsided loss in their best-of-seven Stanley Cup first round series against the Boston Bruins.
After falling 5-1 in Game 1 on Thursday, the Leafs started with more energy on Saturday, but were quickly undone by defensive miscues, their inability to stop the Bruins top line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak and the red-hot Boston power play in a 7-3 loss at TD Garden.
Goals from David Pastrnak, Jake Debrusk and Kevan Miller just over 12 minutes into the game forced Leafs head coach Mike Babcock to pull goalie Frederik Andersen after allowing three goals on five shots and Toronto could not recover from that early deficit in a 7-3 loss at TD Garden.
“Obviously, it hasn't gone the way we wanted. Any way you look at it, we've given up a dozen goals in two games.” Babcock said following the game. “We've got to get home and get some home cooking tomorrow, get our mind right and come back and play like we can because we're a way better team than what we've showed.”
In addition to the absence of Nazem Kadri, who served the second of a three-game suspension on Monday, Toronto may be without Leo Komarov for the foreseeable future after the veteran winger left the game in the second period after a collision with Miller along the boards.
Komarov will be checked out by the club’s medical staff to determine the severity of the injury, but it could be a recurrence of a lower body injury that caused the feisty winger to miss two weeks in late March after colliding with teammate William Nylander.
Babcock is planning on not having Komarov available on Monday and will have to make at least one roster change for Game 3. The question for the Leafs is whether any further changes will be made that do not involve injury or suspension.
Andersen (who has a 6.22 GAA and .822 save percentage in two starts) will be back between the pipes on Monday after being yanked in Game 2.
“He's our guy. The puck was going in and it wasn't going our way so we got him out. But, I've said to you already a couple times this morning, we haven't done a very good job in front of him.” Babcock said. “You've got to give your goalie a chance to be good, we haven't done that. Freddie is our guy and he'll be back tomorrow.”
In spite of Ron Hainsey and Nikita Zaitsev struggling mightily in Boston, the likelihood that Connor Carrick will be inserted into the lineup is slim.
Komarov’s absence may bring about the return of either Dominic Moore or Matt Martin for Game 3.
Moore was a part of the Leafs penalty killing during the regular season and would provide Babcock with an extra faceoff specialist, but the veteran would be playing on the wing, where he played just one game this year.
Martin on the other hand has played only three times since the All-Star break and lost his place in the lineup to faster skilled forwards such as Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson, but the big winger could provide the Leafs some pushback that they have sorely lacked and protection to small forwards like Mitch Marner, who continued to receive special attention from Boston forwards on Saturday.
Another possibility (those less likely) is that both Moore and Martin get put in the lineup and that Tomas Plekanec sits for Game 3. The veteran center was once again underwhelming on Saturday, but his acquisition at the urging of Babcock before the trade deadline may have his place in the lineup secure for the time being.
There will be more of an indication of what changes will occur at the morning skate on Monday, but for Toronto to get back into the series, they will need their top players to step up and perform.
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