Sports: Rosie DiManno: Leafs’ Rielly learns to roll with playoff joy ride, speed bumps and all - PressFrom - Canada

SportsRosie DiManno: Leafs’ Rielly learns to roll with playoff joy ride, speed bumps and all

13:06  18 april  2019
13:06  18 april  2019 Source:

Rosie DiManno: Mitch Marner magic gives Leafs jump on Bruins in Game 1

Rosie DiManno: Mitch Marner magic gives Leafs jump on Bruins in Game 1 BOSTON—A swing-from-the-heels slapper. A deke-deke-deke penalty shot. Mitch Marner 2. Boston Bruins 1. Leafs 4. Bruins 1. 

The latest Tweets from Rosie DiManno (@RDiManno): "O joy . Just love it when computer freezes up on deadline. Piece of shite. # Leafs #f--kme".

Leafs lose their way after first period in 6-4 loss in St. Louis, their fifth setback in six outings. More lousy kismet on another Blue foray shortly thereafter as Morgan Rielly got knocked off his feet Which was a pity because the Leaf goalie had looked so sound and sturdy to that point, riding a wave of

Rosie DiManno: Leafs’ Rielly learns to roll with playoff joy ride, speed bumps and all© Steve Russell The Bruins celebrate a goal by Boston’s Brad Marchand (63) against the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Wednesday.

The crowd has quietened. The national anthems are being sung.

At the bench, Morgan Rielly sways gently, blinking, as spotlights swing around the darkened arena.

He’s thinking: “Play the best you can. Be solid. Help the team.”

And: “You don’t want to be the guy who makes a mistake. You want to be a guy that the coaches put out there because they trust you, they rely on you.

“You’re nervous. But it’s fun, really fun. You’ve worked all year to get to this point and now you’ve got an opportunity to play the most important hockey of your life. That’s what it feels like.”

Rosie DiManno: Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen is the calm in the middle of the storm again

Rosie DiManno: Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen is the calm in the middle of the storm again BOSTON—There was a time when Freddie Andersen crackled with emotion. Water bottles flung, goalie sticks slammed against the glass. A temper burn turned his pale face splotchy pink. We haven’t seen that Freddie in Toronto. Perhaps he doesn’t exist anymore, left behind in Anaheim, or sloughed off with his early 20s. Because these days the Ginger Man is preternaturally calm, serene even. He speaks so softly you have to lean in to hear, invading his personal space, inhaling the scent of him. It’s almost unheard of for an NHL goaltender to talk on game-day mornings, when he’s starting that night. They’re twitchy, zoned out, wrapped in a cocoon of preparation.

Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock, who practically winces when his talent-laden players burst out on the rush, would have loved a fire hydrant like Andreychuk. Leafs ’ Morgan Rielly at the fore of NHL rearguards. Ontario is apparently getting propaganda, writes Rosie DiManno .

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Game 1: Coach Mike Babcock leaned on his stalwart defenceman for 24 minutes and 34 seconds of ice time.

Game 2: Twenty-three minutes and 53 seconds.

Game 3: Twenty-seven minutes and 58 seconds, six shots on goal.

Game 4: Twenty-three minutes and 24 seconds.

At the end of which, Wednesday night at a Scotiabank Arena that careered from rollicking expectant to stunned silent to razor’s edge tense to abjectly demoralized, the Maple Leafs skated crestfallen off the ice — but also angry, a good angry — as 6-4 losers, knotted with the Bruins at two games apiece in their first-round playoff rodeo.

Not the start, not the unfolding, Rielly had envisioned driving down to the rink.

Not a mistake, on his part, as the Leafs tipped quickly into a 1-0 hole, seconds away from shaking loose of a holding penalty assessed against Connor Brown. Which was more of a message sent, from the officials, than a 3-D infraction. Lots of buzzing energy by the Leafs, through an opening 90 seconds, but the Bruins were beneficiaries of the tone-setting call, Rielly a helpless spectator on the other side of the net when Charlie McAvoy’s snap shot beat Freddie Andersen.

Rosie DiManno: At least Kadri fought back on night to forget for Leafs in Beantown

Rosie DiManno: At least Kadri fought back on night to forget for Leafs in Beantown BOSTON—Body and soul. And maybe out of his mind. That was Nazem Kadri, both combatant and casualty in the fiasco that was Game 2 for the Maple Leafs. Ended the 4-1 night out of sight, hustled off trailing a five-minute charging major and a game misconduct, and in his absence the Bruins beat Freddie Andersen one last time. That lonely 1 a late third-period deflection by Kadri past Tuukka Rask. A tiny dollop of: Bite me. But at least Kadri brung it. Which is more than can be said for most of his timorous teammates on what became, in the playoff annals of these two teams, another Calamity on Causeway. Savoured by a leather-lung crowd at the TD Garden.

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Lickety-split, the Bruins were up 2-0 and all the oomph seemed to drain out of the arena. Gifted with a pair of consecutive power plays, the Leafs could do nothing with their advantage.

It was Rielly who masterminded Toronto’s pushback as the first period clicked down, slowing the pace from the point, taking a good look at where he wanted to put the puck. That had been the plan, since the puck dropped on this series six days earlier — lots of pucks at Tuukka Rask, a heavily engaged rearguard. “The D have to be effective,’’ Rielly had said. “When the forwards work hard to get you the puck, it’s important that you get your shots through. Traffic, rebounds, tips, whatever we can do to make life tough on their goalie.”

And so he did. Low and deliberate shot into a crunch of bodies, with Zach Hyman labouring to hold his ground, shoved and harassed from behind. Just managed to get his stick on the Rielly shot as it whizzed past, directed up and over Rask’s right pad.

Leafs expecting heavy pushback from Bruins in Game 4

Leafs expecting heavy pushback from Bruins in Game 4 The Maple Leafs are certainly learning a lesson about intensity — not only from their series with the Boston Bruins but from the major upsets that unfolded in the first round of the NHL playoffs Tuesday night. “If you watch TV, you know which way the intensity is going just look at what happened last night,” Leafs coach Mike Babcock said Wednesday, as his team held an optional morning skate in advance of Game 4 against Boston. Players on both teams and around the league were as surprised as anyone at the four-game sweeps that eliminated the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Presidents’ Trophy winners and heavy Stanley Cup favourite, and the Sidney Crosby-led Pittsburgh Penguins.

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One back late; another one back early in the second. Second goal for Auston Matthews — one more, at that point, than the Leafs stud managed through seven playoff games versus these Bruins a year ago. Then, bada-bing-bada-boom, the visitors were suddenly ahead 4-2, the Leafs unable to generate much offence while Boston’s premier line came to life. Confidence surges. It never ebbs. Otherwise, well, you end up like Tampa Bay. It’s sports, it’s NHL hockey, and anything can happen over the horizon in a best-of-seven series. But the Leafs are now where they started, in a best-of-three show-your-cards, having surrendered the home-ice advantage they’d snatched away by winning Game 1 at TD Garden. Their reckoning is at hand. In their own hands, though. How assured are those hands?

“You don’t want to get too carried away,” Rielly had said. “You don’t want to get too ahead of yourself. That being said, this is why you play the game. This is why John (Tavares) came here. This is what we’re here to do, to win playoff games, to win a series, and move on from there.’’

But geez — and reminder — those Bruins can move that puck like the blazes. Like the Leafs, actually, if with lesser style. Both team and city are consumed with playoff edginess, light-headedness. across hockey and basketball, just as in Boston, where the Leafs return for Game 5 on Friday. There’s really no rest for the players, as they manage their bodies and their minds.

Rosie DiManno: Maple Leafs need to (penalty) kill or be killed

Rosie DiManno: Maple Leafs need to (penalty) kill or be killed The fix is in. Fixing what ailed the Leafs in their Game 4 loss in Toronto, I mean. But is there enough time left to reorient by rectifying what bit the Leafs hard on Wednesday, with the opening round series now a best-of-three? The penalty kill was a killer. Two power-play goals surrendered on just two chances. That’s an exacta. Against what was the third-best power-play unit in the league over the regular season, hardly a shocker. It actually took the Bruins all of 2:09 in man-advantage time to strike twice. There has been at least one Bruins power-play goal in each of the four games that have gone into the books – 5-for-11 in the series. That’s a pathetic kill rate of 54.

The Leafs /Marlies have been good at developing forwards, not their own defencemen they have drafted. The Leafs have gone out on somewhat of a limb here with Liljegren, who needs minutes and a consistent role on a Rosie DiManno : Maple Leafs ’ blue line finds itself right back where it started.

Rosie DiManno (born c. 1956) is a Canadian journalist who has worked at the Toronto Star since beginning her career in 1975. In 2012 the Canadian Olympic Committee honored DiManno for covering over 10 Olympic games. Dimanno was born in Toronto to Italian immigrants.

It was never going to be easy, certainly not as easy as the Leafs made it look in Game 1, or with the imposition of hard-nosed will demonstrated in Game 3. The Bruins weren’t born yesterday. Their core is playoff-wizened.

On his face, Rielly still carries the scars of Game 7 a year ago — struck above the mouth by a Zdeno Chara shot. The playoff beard doesn’t grow over that patch of stitch-threaded skin.

A bulwark on defence and a leader on the team, gaudy with the goals and points in the regular season. Unwilling to change anything up, as the series grinds on, embracing the regimen and the routine, taking comfort in the familiar.

“Guys are doing what they normally do and I think that’s good,” Rielly had said. “That kind of proves that we’re comfortable here.” Here, the playoffs. “No one’s really going out of their way to change things because they’re nervous. Overdo things because they’re over-excited.’’

Only a handful of these youthful Leafs can recall a time when there was nothing to be excited about at all, when the playoffs — even just a taste of them — passed Toronto by.

Rielly, still only just turned 25, remembers. He was a teenager when he joined the Leafs blue line. Wilderness years — sixth in the Atlantic Division, seventh in the Atlantic Division, eighth in the Atlantic Division. Then playoffs-playoffs. And these playoffs, too greasy for either team to get a good grip.

From a kid to a leader. Two assists on this losing night.

A third-period end-to-end rush and backhand easily set aside by Rask. And somehow, with Rielly on the bench mere seconds later, the puck was on Chara’s freaky long stick. A tick-tock later, his half-arsed slapper was behind Andersen.

The Leafs could have folded there, trailing 5-2 late in the third. They did not. Instead, they fizzed to life, Matthews with his second, a play started by Rielly but manoeuvred by Mitch Marner. Then, with his first of the post-season, Travis Dermott brought Toronto achingly close, just 6:33 left in regulation.

Hell of a rally, fallen short.

A day in the Life of Rielly. A night — gasping, bent at the waist, with the Toronto net empty, soon to be filled by one more Boston marker — of five shots on goal.

And the taste of ashes.

Rosie DiManno is a columnist based in Toronto covering sports and current affairs. Follow her on Twitter: @rdimanno

Rosie DiManno: It’s too soon, and still too sore, for the Leafs but GM Kyle Dubas says ‘it starts with me’.
On the morning after, the moment his eyes flickered open, Jonathan Tavares felt the thud in his soul. Lying there, as the finality of the season roiled his thoughts. “You wake up, you get smacked right in the face that it’s over, again.” It was a painful day, of regrets and what could have been, for all the Toronto Maple Leafs. Some sought each other out, to console. Others spent it in solitary contemplation. On Friday, they will convene one last time, as the team they were in 2018-19. Privately, at a location undisclosed. For farewells and un-tapping of frustrations. Because they’ll never be this team again, with this particular personnel.

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