NHL Playoff Daily: Either way, tonight will bring pain in Boston or Toronto

Normally we talk about what happened last night in this space. 

But today I want to talk about what’s going to happen tonight. 

There will be panic and anger. Rash decisions will be made and a fanbase will be ready to blow it all up. 

That’s what awaits the loser of Game 6 of tonight’s game between the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs. 

If the Maple Leafs lose their season will be over, there will be calls for Sheldon Keefe’s job and questions about the toughness of Toronto’s top players. The long-standing reminder that Toronto has never gone past the second round of the playoffs in the NHL era – it only took two rounds to win the Stanley Cup in the 1960s – will be fresh in everyone’s mind, and we can all use the joke about how only in Toronto, leafs fall in the spring. 

If Boston loses, they'll be panic before Game 7. 

The Bruins were in this situation last year against the Florida Panthers, leading 3-1 before losing three straight and getting ousted after posting one of the finest regular seasons in NHL history. 

Boston had Toronto down and beaten after Game 4, in Game 5, without Auston Matthews, the Bruins let the Maple Leafs up. And now heading into Game 6, the Bruins have lost four straight when having an opportunity to close out an opponent. 

Jim Montgomery isn’t coaching for his job, but he is coaching to avoid the hottest possible seat going into next season and proving he’s something more than a regular season coach, who simply struggles in playoff series like he has with both the Bruins and prior with the Dallas Stars. 

For those of you who feast on misery in Toronto or Boston, either way you can get your popcorn ready. 

McDavid dazzles, again

One of the lasting images of Connor McDavid is him blazing through the neutral zone, accelerating at an unbelievable pace and leaving everything else in his wake. 

We should also add in the imagery of him making NHLers look like little kids as he orbits the offensive zone on the power play. Speed in straight line spurts is easy, to be able to accelerate with control in a confined space, like McDavid does on the power play, feels other worldly. 

And it effectively kept the Los Angeles Kings in a permanent spin cycle in Game 5 as the Oilers won 4-3 and closed out the series, now waiting for either the Vancouver Canucks or Nashville Predators to meet them in the next round. 

McDavid had two assists last night, bumping his total to 11 in a five-game series. That’s an average of more than two per game, and comes fresh off a regular season where he hit the century mark on helpers. 

What was that?

Bruce Cassidy panicked and changed his goalies. 

After Logan Thompson had been the Vegas Golden Knights’ best player in the first four games, Cassidy switched to Adin Hill for Game 5 and Vegas lost 3-2 to the Dallas Stars. 

Cassidy’s other move, bringing in Pavel Dorofeyev instead of trade deadline acquisition Anthony Mantha, ended with the young forward getting benched for the remainder of the game. 

Honestly, it probably didn’t matter. Dallas was the better team in Game 5 and has been the better team in four of the five games this series, the Stars new young core of Wyatt Johnston, Logan Stankoven, and Jason Robertson have run the Golden Knights ragged and for all the talk about Mark Stone’s return, he’s been the one getting puck jacked in the neutral zone and not the other way around. 

The defending champions face a must-win at home on Friday night. Maybe, just maybe, they flew too close to the sun this year with their usage of LTIR to upgrade the roster. Maybe you need time for a roster to actually come together, and just hoping it’ll all work out isn’t the best formula, especially when facing the No. 1 team in the Western Conference. 

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This article is about:
NHL Boston Bruins Dallas Stars Edmonton Oilers Los Angeles Kings Toronto Maple Leafs Vegas Golden Knights Pavel Dorofeyev Adin Hill Wyatt Johnston Anthony Mantha Auston Matthews Connor McDavid Jason Robertson Logan Stankoven Mark Stone Logan Thompson
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