The post Maple Leafs’ Struggle in 5-1 Game 1 Loss to Bruins appeared first on NHL Trade Talk.

It seems like the same old, same old. The Toronto Maple Leafs encountered a challenging start in their playoff series against the Boston Bruins. Never really in the game from the beginning of the first period, the Blue & White fell behind and never seemed to get their collective act together. The result was a resounding 5-1 defeat in Game 1.

Interestingly, the Maple Leafs neutralized Boston’s top scorers, like David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand. It was the Bruins’ bottom six who beat them. Once the Bruins scored, all game long, the Maple Leafs struggled to generate offense and capitalize on scoring chances. The Maple Leafs also built up a grocery list of errors that cost them. Defensive lapses, penalty trouble, and goaltending concerns headed that list and contributed to their Game 1 loss.

Related: 3 Looming Questions as the Maple Leafs Enter the Playoffs

Three Key Takeaways from the Game

The following are three key takeaways from the game.

Takeaway One: The Maple Leafs Were Offensive Inefficient and Missed Their Chances

The Maple Leafs failed to convert on numerous scoring chances throughout the game. Despite neutralizing Boston’s top offensive threats, Toronto’s big guns were also neutralized. The team couldn’t generate enough secondary scoring to match the Bruins’ depth. Auston Matthews, known for his regular-season goal-scoring, didn’t finish the job. He had some energy but wasn’t able to convert.

Auston Matthews upset loss to Bruins Game 1

What to do? Matthews needs to step up. With William Nylander absent from the lineup, it’s his team to carry. The team’s second line looked ordinary in five-on-five hockey. John Tavares, Mitch Marner, and others must contribute more consistently. The team needs to be more clinical in finishing chances to apply sustained offensive pressure and put Boston on its heels. Easier said than done.

Takeaway Two: The Maple Leafs Had Too Many Defensive Lapses, and the Special Teams Struggled

Critical turnovers and defensive breakdowns plagued the Maple Leafs. The Bruins were waiting, took advantage, and made the most of any Toronto turnovers. The penalty kill was a major concern for the Maple Leafs and failed to stem the Bruins’ scoring. The result was that Boston capitalized on two power plays.

Also, the Maple Leafs’ intent to match the Bruins’ physicality turned into undisciplined and careless penalties. After the game, head coach Sheldon Keefe emphasized the need for discipline and smarter play, as careless penalties proved costly. He was more than right.

The Maple Leafs need to tighten up defensively, minimize turnovers, quit playing undisciplined hockey, and improve their special teams’ efficiency. If they cannot, there will be little they can do to prevent Boston from exploiting these weaknesses repeatedly.

Takeaway Three: The Maple Leafs Goaltending Lacked Consistency

Ilya Samsonov‘s goaltending performance fell short compared to Boston’s Jeremy Swayman. Samsonov let in too many shots from the outside, reminiscent of some of his recent past performances. His play raised questions about the Maple Leafs’ goaltending strategy moving forward.

There will be talk about a potential goaltending change for Game 2 to inject momentum into the team. However, the loss wasn’t all on Samsonov. The team made too many errors, and Samsonov couldn’t stop them.

In the end, whether the Maple Leafs stick with Samsonov or consider giving the crease to Joseph Woll, Toronto will need both strong team defense and consistent goalie play to keep games within reach. Solid goaltending will boost the team’s confidence and competitiveness as the series progresses.

The Bottom Line: The Bruins Exposed Too Many Problems in the Maple Leafs Play

The Maple Leafs’ 5-1 loss to the Bruins exposed several areas that require Game 2 improvement. These include enhancing the team’s offensive efficiency, tightening up the team’s defensive play, improving special teams execution, and stabilizing the goaltending.

Interestingly, these are the same issues the team faced over the last part of the regular season. If the Maple Leafs cannot rebound and shift the momentum in their favor for Game 2, it will be a short series.

Related: Don’t Forget Martin Jones’ Part in the Maple Leafs Success

The post Maple Leafs’ Struggle in 5-1 Game 1 Loss to Bruins appeared first on NHL Trade Talk.

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