Samsonov must outdo Bobrovsky for Leafs to come back
Maple Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov has to outplay his opposite number and fellow-countryman Sergei Bobrovsky if Toronto are to come back from 2-0 down to the Florida Panthers in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
OMAR: Keys to game three, first key, stop making it easy for Florida to score and win the game. I'm going to say that one more time. Stop making it easy for Florida to score and win the game. The last two games, the Leafs have gift-wrapped opportunities.
They're like Delibird in Pokémon, like here, present day, here you go, here's your gift. Or like Meowth, here, payday, here's all your coins. They're making it so easy for them. Just stop it. Just stop making it easy.
You are the better team. You have been the better team. You're just gifting them these opportunities. And of course they're going to score on them. They're the Florida frigging Panthers, man.
So if they stop making it easy for them, they put themselves in the best chance to win-- again, they were the better team in this game until those 47 seconds where they threw the game away.
Second thing, push, set the tone, and continue to push. Do not take your foot off the gas. They had a great 40 minutes. It'd be awesome if it was 60. And they've been talking about it so many times. Ryan O'Reilly has mentioned the importance of a 60-minute effort.
We've all been mentioning the importance of a 60-minute effort, whether it's the regular season, playoffs, whatever. This game is just so frustrating because, if you watched the first period and then walked away and came back, you'd be shocked, shocked to hear the discourse around it because it didn't need to be that way.
So if you're going to set the tone and you're going to play it a certain way and you're going to compete and you're going to finish your checks and you're going to amp up the pressure, you better stick to that the entire game because the minute you take your foot off the gas, Florida will be right there, waiting to capitalize on it.
And then the final, the most important key, and this may not be fair. But you know what? The numbers do not lie. Ilya Samsonov has to be better than Sergei Bobrovsky. Bobrovsky has been the better goalie in every single game, fact. The numbers don't lie.
They asked them about it after the game. He had a hilarious response. They said, hey, how do you-- I'm paraphrasing. Hey, how do you feel about Sergei Bobrovsky's game and how he's been playing. And Samsonov was just straight up, I don't give a swear word.
Good. You know why it's good? Because that means he's mad and he's annoyed and he's frustrated. And that's great. I want him to be mad. I want him to be frustrated because I want him to go back in time and take that Samsonov that was better than Andre Vasilevskiy and bring it to light.
I'm not saying that Samsonov was horrible. I'm not even saying that he's the reason they're down 2-0. But you know what? Bobrovsky is the reason they're up 2-0. He doesn't give you much. And he stops everything else.
William Nylander should have had 4 goals, 5. Tavares could have had 2. Ryan O'Reilly could have had a second. Matthews was looking at Bobrovsky's blocker the entire game. He could have had a couple, but they didn't go in because he stopped them.
Samsonov may make great saves in this game. He stopped Carter Verghaege. He stopped the two-on-one. He made a lot of good, clutch saves. But it is not enough. Not fair? I don't care. It's not enough. He needs to be better than Sergei Bobrovsky.
He has to reach in and find something to propel him. And I hope that the question he was asked that made him swear in front of the media instead of being the Sammy smiles person that we will all come to like and know this season, I hope that is the thing that flips the switch and kicks it into overdrive because if he's not better than Bobrovsky, we will lose.
And now, again, I've changed my tune. I am beyond just wanting to win a round because I'm seeing this team. And I'm seeing the path. And I know they can do it. And Bobrovsky is going to be the most annoying aspect of it. But if Samsonov can out-duel, him can out-goalie him, then the Leafs can do it.
But it starts in game three. And it starts on Sunday. Be the better team. Be the better goalie. And win in front of the home crowd. That was a joke. All the Leafs fans there will be pretty funny.