Hockey games aren’t won on paper, and the Ottawa Senators proved that on Saturday night as they completely dismantled the much better Maple Leafs. Can Toronto take solace in the loss heading into the playoffs?
Who had that score line predicted before the game? I’m sure Ottawa fans (who watched from home, lets be honest) didn’t even see that explosive game coming. It’s inexplicable but maybe there is a lesson the Leafs can take from the game.
Hockey Games Aren’t Won on Paper
Who wants it more. That will be the question that decides Toronto’s eventual playoff series with the Boston Bruins. The Leafs seem resigned to cede home ice advantage to Boston, which isn’t a great tactic to be fair, but until we get to the playoffs, we won’t have any idea how this team will fare.
On Saturday, Ottawa showed Toronto that hockey games can be won on pure desire. A young, inexperienced team beat the offensive juggernaut Maple Leafs by shocking them with goals, simply because the pressure was off and they wanted the win more.
Call it a faulty ‘big team mentality’ but the Leafs appear to have overlooked Ottawa in this game and when they slapped them in the face with an unrelenting attack, Toronto had no answers for them.
Anders Nilsson played a role in Ottawa’s win, as well. He backstopped them to the unlikely 6-2 scoreline with some tremendous saves. On the other side, it’s easy to point the finger at Garret Sparks in net for Toronto for the loss but Sparks played extremely well and again was let down by his team defense on the majority of the goals.
Hockey Isn’t Fair
Toronto can embrace this. Everyone, including a lot of Leafs fans, are counting the Leafs out of their impending playoff series with Boston before they postseason even starts. I, for one, am not one of those doubters. I don’t want to come out and say they’ll win, but I think they have as much of a chance to beat Boston as they Bruins have to beat them.
It’s essentially a pick’em. Toronto has the better and deeper offense, Boston has one of the most effective first-lines in the NHL and a better defense-core. Ironically, on paper the Leafs might have the edge on Boston, but hockey isn’t fair like that.
It’s all burned into our minds. The playoff series that slipped away years ago with the old regime, and the grinding loss last season to the Bruins as well. Boston has the mental advantage and has people thinking they’ll repeat their first-round win over Toronto.
Ottawa showed Toronto that desire and wanting it more can outweigh on-paper skill of the perception of the public. Toronto should embrace the underdog mentality like the Sen’s did and shock the hockey world. It kind of sucks that their prize will be Tampa thought…