Before the puck dropped, Game 4 in Toronto felt like a potential series turning point.
With Patrice Bergeron out of the lineup, the Maple Leafs’ task was straightforward: win the game, tie the series, and head back to Boston with the momentum.
But in terms of big changes, the options are limited.
But there’s one card in the deck that a coach can play if needed: the goalie switch.
At the very least, you’d expect them to come out flying in a leave-it-all-on-the-ice effort to take advantage of a golden opportunity.
Instead they surrendered a goal on the game’s first shift, and failed to find much offence on the way to a 3-1 loss.
It’s not fancy, and probably won’t make it into too many books of inspiring sports quotes.
But the Maple Leafs can’t afford fancy right now, so simple will have to do.
The Devils had been riding Kinkaid down the stretch in the regular season when they were essentially playing de facto playoff games, and he’d been great.
Meanwhile, Schneider had suffered through a second straight season of below-average play.
They’re getting offence from their other best players, such as Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, while key Maple Leafs, such as Auston Matthews and William Nylander, have been largely quiet. And home ice means the Bruins will once again control the matchup battle, one they won handily in the first two games.
It all adds up to a bleak outlook for a Maple Leafs team that went into the season with plenty of optimism, and largely lived up to the hype with a franchise-record 105 points.
HNIC Game of the Night: Maple Leafs at Bruins “If you win, you get to play again.