Pastrnak gets hat trick, six points in Bruins battering of Maple Leafs

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Uh oh.

Through two games of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, no one looks more like a tire fire than the Toronto Maple Leafs. After getting blown out 5-1 on Thursday, you’d at the very least expect some sort of fight back from the Leafs.

But nope.

Instead, the Boston Bruins kept the train rolling, scoring four times on seven shots in the first period, including three goals on five shots against Frederik Andersen — who got the yank after 12:13 — en route to a 7-3 demolition on Saturday night in Boston.

The Bruins hold a 2-0 series lead as they move to Air Canada Centre for Games 3 and 4.

Andersen, who has allowed eight goals on 45 shots in the series thus far, didn’t get a chance to break a sweat. Curtis McElhinney, who came in to replace the Leafs’ No. 1 didn’t fare much better.

And the Maple Leafs can blame David Pastrnak for their troubles.

Pastrnak scored a hat trick and had six points to bring his two-game point total to nine.

Yes, nine. 9. Neuf. IX.

Pastrnak’s line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron are responsible for 20 points in two games. Twenty.

  • Pastrnak – four goals, five assists
  • Marchand – one goal, five assists
  • Bergeron – five assists

That is utter dominance. An unstoppable force with no immovable object in sight.

The Maple Leafs need to get their belongings together. Partly, because they’re heading back to Toronto after this game for Game 3 and 4. But also partly because if this is all they can muster in the series, they might as well start packing for the offseason, because it’s coming very, very soon.

They’re down 2-0 in the series and there’s nothing to suggest they have any hope of winning one game, never mind four at this point.

Hell, the Maple Leafs may not even get a lead in this series.

Boston looks unstoppable so far.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Maple Leafs should rest workhorse goalie Andersen

Getty
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Earlier this season, much of the discussion about the Edmonton Oilers’ struggles revolved around the possibility that Cam Talbot was worn out from 2016-17. At least when people weren’t making trade jokes.

There’s no denying that Talbot carried a heavy burden last season, starting a Brodeurian 73 regular-season games and then heading Edmonton’s playoff push.

One cannot help but wonder if the Toronto Maple Leafs are taking similar risks with their 28-year-old workhorse goalie Frederik Andersen. No goalie has faced more shots (3,923) and made more saves (3,605) than Andersen since he joined the Buds last season. In fact, it’s not particularly close, with Andersen leading Talbot and the rest of the pack by at least 200 shots faced/saves.

To his credit, Andersen’s passed his tests with flying colors, generating a .919 save percentage so far despite those heavy minutes.

That’s all a testament to Andersen, who seemed pretty happy with the idea of carrying such a burden last season. Still, Mike Babcock & Co. should think long and hard about giving Andersen more rest down the stretch, even if they might need to ward off the occasional rebuttal. Take, for instance, what Nazem Kadri told the Canadian Press about resting players about a year ago:

“Never. Never,” Kadri said when asked about the subject before adding a slight caveat. “Maybe if you had first locked into place by a mile and it was the last game of the year on the road or something — maybe you sit a guy out. But never for multiple games … If a healthy player is healthy he’s playing.”

Now, the Maple Leafs don’t have “first locked into place by a mile,” yet they seem more or less stapled to third in the Atlantic Division. With the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins hammering out what could be a tight battle for the division crown, Toronto could make for a tough opponent if they bring younger and fresher legs into such a series.

As formidable as the Bruins and Lightning look, both teams are banged up. The B’s are playing it safe with Tuukka Rask, too:

The Maple Leafs are already taking a cautious approach with healing up Auston Matthews‘ shoulder injury, so why not play it safe with Andersen?

Beyond (ideally) reducing the odds of an injury, there are some other benefits to giving him a breather.

The Other Guys

Quietly, Curtis McElhinney has been fantastic as Andersen’s aging backup. The 34-year-old has 11 starts and 13 appearances, going 7-4-1 with a splendid .931 save percentage. He was pretty sturdy last season, too, generating a .917 save percentage between his time with Columbus and Toronto.

At minimum, it seems like McElhinney’s earned a few more looks, and the Maple Leafs would be wise to keep him sharp in case anything happens to Andersen.

Going further, the Maple Leafs also might want to take another glance or two at overqualified AHL goalie Calvin Pickard. The 25-year-old got a raw deal in being claimed off of waivers after getting lost in the shuffle with the Vegas Golden Knights, and if he’s sulking with the Toronto Marlies, he’s not exactly letting it affect his play. Pickard’s 17-8-0 with a .924 save percentage in the AHL this season.

With McElhinney signed through 2018-19 and Pickard set as a pending RFA, the Maple Leafs might have to make a choice regarding their backup situation soon. Giving one or both of them reps down the stretch might just bump up their trade value this summer, so there are benefits even beyond limiting Andersen’s fatigue.

***

Now, this isn’t to say that Andersen should stick to the bench until April.

Goalies prefer to stay sharp, and considering the volume of shots the Maple Leafs often yield, he might feel like too much rest is like going cold turkey. There’s a balance to be struck here, and that may be the job of trainers, if not sports psychologists.

Still, the Maple Leafs lean a ton on Andersen, so they’d be wise to consider taking their feet off the pedal for a bit. At least until the real race begins in the playoffs.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Frederik Andersen forced to leave game after taking skate to the head

Sportsnet
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Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen was forced to leave the game in the second period of the Maple Leafs game against the Anaheim Ducks on Monday after taking a skate to the head.

Ducks forward Corey Perry collided with Andersen in his crease.

Perry appears to come through the crease and gets tripped up by Maple Leafs defenseman Ron Hainsey, sending Perry horizontal, with his left skate smacking Anderson in the head on the way up.

The Toronto Maple Leafs No. 1 netminder lay on the ice before skating off under his own power, holding his mouth.

Backup Curtis McElhinney replaced Andersen.

The Maples Leafs lead the Ducks 4-3 after two periods.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

The Buzzer: A throwback night for Ryans

Players of the Night:

Highlight of the Night: Ryan Callahan turns back the clock.

Seriously, Callahan did this … in 2018.

Chris Neil honored: So many black eyes and bruises.

Factoids

Read about Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin reaching milestones here.

A quirky stat stemming from John Gibson‘s troubling injury, and Ryan Miller coming in relief:

Speaking of Miller …

… and speaking of Miller, again:

And speaking of a team that once tormented Miller, at least when Milan Lucic was around:

Scores

Predators 3, Devils 0
Lightning 5, Flyers 1
Penguins 6, Wild 3
Hurricanes 6, Canadiens 5
Bruins 3, Senators 2
Blackhawks 5, Red Wings 1
Capitals 4, Panthers 2
Blues 3, Avalanche 1
Maple Leafs 4, Stars 1
Oilers 4, Flames 3 (SO)
Blue Jackets 2, Coyotes 1
Sabres 4, Canucks 0
Islanders 2, Golden Knights 1
Ducks 4, Jets 3 (SO)
Rangers 6, Sharks 5

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

The Buzzer: McElhinney with the McShutout, Schenn scores again

Associated Press
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Players of the Night: 

Curtis McElhinney, Toronto Maple Leafs:

McElhinney turned aside all 41 shots that came his way as the Leafs shutout the Edmonton Oilers 1-0. The Leafs backup improved to 3-2-0 on the season and his save percentage jumped from .900 to 9.25. Toronto has now won three straight and six of their past 10.

Brayden Schenn, St. Louis Blues:

Schenn notched his sixth goal in his past four games and extended his goal-scoring streak to four games with a goal 40 seconds into the game. The Blues are now winners of four straight and six of their past 10.

Eric Stall, Minnesota Wild & Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks: 

Both scored twice for their respective teams in an entertaining 4-3 win for the Wild in overtime.

Highlight of the Night: 

Vladimir Tarasenko catches the Sabres defense sleeping in overtime, scoring his first non-empty net goal in nine games:

Factoid of the Night: 

Patrick Kane didn’t score, but his two assists were instrumental in giving the Chicago Blackhawks a victory on Sunday.

Scores: 

Blackhawks 3, Coyotes 1

Blues 3, Sabres 2 (OT)

Maple Leafs 1, Oilers 0

Wild 4, Sharks 3


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck