LATEST UPDATE : Toronto Maple Leafs receive boost as 2 key players return to face the Bruins in game 4

The Leafs are hoping that the potential return of William Nylander will reignite their faltering power play. Goaltender Ilya Samsonov will also need to make more timely saves.
The Toronto Maple Leafs will try to put an end to some troubling trends when they play the Boston Bruins in a crucial Game 4 at Scotiabank Arena on Saturday.

The return of star winger William Nylander should provide an emotional boost, but he cannot solve all of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ problems.

Over the first three games of the series against the Bruins, the Leafs have faced some familiar playoff challenges.

The Leafs must overcome two barriers to square the series before returning to Boston: outstanding play by the opposing goaltender and being outplayed on special teams.

The Toronto Maple Leafs look to reverse negative trends in pivotal Game 4 against the Bruins.
Boston goaltender Jeremy Swayman has led the Bruins to victories in both the series opener and Game 3, extending his dominance over the Leafs.

William Nylander - Stats, Contract, Salary & More

On the other hand, Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov let in a disappointing short-side shot by Trent Frederick during Game 3, allowing the Bruins to tie the game at one. The Leafs will return to him tonight.

Untimely, dubious goals have been a frequent theme in the Leafs’ recent postseason struggles. Frederik Andersen and Jack Campbell accomplished the same thing during their tenures.

Samsonov made more critical saves than Linus Ullmark in the Leafs’ Game 2 triumph, but Frederick’s soft goal sapped the spirit from Scotiabank Arena and fueled the Bruins.

Swayman has outperformed Samsonov in both games, effectively ending the Bruins goaltender rotation. The Leafs goaltenders’ subpar goals must be eliminated.

Leafs Must Win the Special Teams Battle.
The Leafs’ special teams are clearly in need of improvement. Their lack of competence is surprising, especially when it comes to power dynamics.

Maple Leafs waive underperforming goalie Ilya Samsonov | CBC Sports

A power-play goal at any time during Game 3 would have greatly boosted the Leafs’ chances of victory. Instead, they went scoreless in five man-advantage situations, compounding a month-long slump.

This is unacceptable for a squad that has Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Morgan Rielly, John Tavares, and Nylander.

That’s too lengthy, and the Leafs’ players and coaches must adapt and make changes. If the problems persist, the leash should be shortened and personnel adjustments made.

The Leafs’ terrible power play is matched by their abysmal penalty killing. Among the sixteen playoff clubs, both are ranked third to last. Their deficits are much below acceptable limits. The power play is at 9.1%, and the penalty kill is 50%.

It defies logic to have both units be so terrible at the same time.

Time is running short for the Leafs to fix their issues.
This is not an elimination game for the Toronto Maple Leafs, but they must do all possible to win. A loss tonight, and the chances of winning the series, with two of the final three games in Boston, are slim.

Extra shifts of stars playing together or changing members on special teams; all options must be considered.

The Leafs also need to be more disciplined. Max Domi and others, despite their good intentions, can’t get caught up in sideshow antics.

The Toronto Maple Leafs must now decide whether to be on the right side of critical, winning plays or to reflect on another missed postseason opportunity.

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