The Bruins left Toronto with a 3-1 win over the Maple Leafs Thursday night in the fourth game of the first-round series and Boston now leads the best-of-7 series 3-1 and can end it at home in Game 5 on Saturday. During Game 4, it was clear that Toronto could have taken the opportunity that the Bruins were without star forward Patrice Bergeron for the contest to take over and tie the series, but they fell short.
"We were set up pretty good," Leafs head coach Mike Babcock lamented to the media after the loss. "We didn’t take advantage. That’s on us."
One of the Leafs players who did not take advantage of the situation was young star forward Auston Matthews, who managed to score the game winner Monday. Unfortunately for Toronto, Matthews was almost invisible throughout the entire contest on Thursday, while Babcock thought he would be on top of his game...
"I’m assuming he thought he would come tonight and dominate the game — that’s what I thought," Babcock said of Matthews. "I thought the same with (William Nylander). That didn’t happen, but the other people you’re playing against are pros and they’re trying, too, and they’re competitive. There’s regular-season competitiveness and there’s Stanley Cup playoff competitiveness, and it keeps amping up.
"When you leave here tonight as an individual, as a coach, as a player, you’ve got time to evaluate … and most guys are pretty honest."
The fact was invisible in the game is not the only thing that disturbed fans on Thursday night: the 20-year-old was also invisible after the contest when he did not speak with the media postgame on Thursday.
The Leafs chose to shield him from any criticism, Matthews agreed, and honestly, the kid could benefit from facing the music and learning from it. What the fan base can take way from Game 4 is that Matthews and Nylander were non-factors. Finally on Friday, Matthews faced the music and met with media members, trying to explain what when wrong in Game 4.
“Their whole defensive structure was good,” said Matthews to TSN. “I mean, they’ve done a pretty good job of keeping us off the net and making it easier for their goalie to make saves. We definitely need to be better as a line. (Saturday) our backs are against the wall and we need to be good and we’re going to be good.”
Frustrated about the loss and being on the brink of elimination, Matthews knows heading into the fifth game of the series with anger is not the way to go.
"We just need to stay with it,” Matthews added. “We can be better, like I said. This is a time where everybody needs to dig in. Down three games to one, but there’s a lot of belief in this room.”
Let's see what happens tonight. The game between the two Eastern rivals will start at 8pm ET.