Nylander doesn’t play, Matthews doesn’t appear in Leafs Game 1 loss

The Toronto Maple Leafs kicked off the 2024 NHL Playoffs by playing an absolutely terrible game, losing 5-1 to the Boston Bruins.

The Leafs were without superstar William Nylander and it showed all night as they struggled to break the puck out of their zone or move through the neutral zone, two things Nylander does well. (They were also without Bobby McMann).

The Leafs started the game well, after which their fourth line hit the ice and it was 1-0 Boston. The Leafs never really recovered.

In the second, they got some wind back in their sails and started to apply pressure when Boston scored again. After that there was no more doubt about the match.

The Leafs got beat last night by some of the most predictable things possible.

Their two worst players (Reaves and Edmundson) combined to give Boston a brutal two-on-one after the Leafs opened the game with four straight shots and nearly two straight minutes of puck possession.

The Leafs, also predictably, forgot what makes them good (offense) and instead tried to completely change their playing style in honor of the playoffs. This led to several bad penalties (Auston Matthews’ was bad, but Max Domi’s was downright stupid) and cost them the match.

Then, as predicted, Ilya Samsonov was terrible. Joseph Woll almost has to play the next game because Samsonov was absolute garbage on Saturday night. He let in the first shot of each of the first two periods and seemed to struggle to find the puck every time there was traffic.

Jeremy Swayman was incredible, and Ilya Samsonov was well below average. Not only did he let in four goals, but Boston also scored four posts. This could have been ugly, and the only reason it wasn’t was just luck.

The Leafs blue line can’t move the puck, and both Rielly and Liljegren were brought in by their partners. Jake McCabe and Simon Benoit had a great game, but the other four defensemen did not.

Auston Matthews once again failed to dominate a playoff game. He was doing well, but he wasn’t the driving force behind the game and he wasn’t a threat when he was on the ice. It would be fair to say the Matthews line was the Leafs worst line.

Ever since the Leafs signed Max Domi and Tyler Bertuzzi last summer, we’ve heard what great playoff players they are, but last night they were two of the Leafs’ worst players. Domi had a great play early, throwing a hit and then making a great pass to Matthews, but that was about all he did other than not irritate Brad Marchand.

The worst part about this game is that it was probably winnable. If the Leafs hadn’t taken so many stupid penalties, if they could kill a penalty, and if they had better goaltending, they might have won.

I’d say Boston didn’t beat Toronto as much as Toronto beat itself. I thought McCabe and Benoit, Marner, Robertson and Tavares were good tonight. While Domi, Edmundson, Bertuzzi and Samsonov were bad.

I think you can expect TJ Brodie and Joseph Woll’s next match to be Monday.