Sometimes when you have two young, dynamic skaters it can cause problems for the opposition. It’s not always about how much they’re scoring, sometimes it’s about chances, and eventually, those turn into goals.
We all saw the Suzuki-Caufield chemistry on the Suzuki OT goal in Game 5, how it happened, and the great skating and passing. The problem this causes for the Leafs is when this line is out, and if you keep Tyler Toffoli on it, you have three players who can fire the puck.
I know with a line like this some are saying you need a puck retriever. Well, you don’t if you’re not dumping it in the corners. All these guys are good at puck possession. Suzuki and Caufield essentially play keep away when they’re skating, and Toffoli always has the puck on his stick, and it’s hard to get it away from him.
If Toronto is without Jake Muzzin for Game 7, and I’m coaching the Habs, I make sure this line is out there early in the first period. Maybe the second line out there and then the same late in the period. There is some real chemistry here.
Dominique Ducharme has done some good things and some head-scratching things. Healthy scratching Alexander Romanov for the series so far is one of them. Especially when you’re essentially going with four defensemen for the large portion of the game. He has speed, and he’s a terrific puck mover, something that has been a problem for the Montreal defense in this series.
Another issue I’ve had with Ducharme is the deployment of Caufield with the man advantage. It took around 41 seconds into the 5-on-3 for him to get on the ice. When it’s 5-on-3 it’s the easiest time to get him the puck with space so he can let it rip. He has one of the best shots on the team already. There doesn’t always have to a veteran being used first in all situations. Sometimes the young player can surprise you in these situations and get a big goal.
The Leafs’ defense isn’t 100%, and this line could cause them real trouble. It’s an investment in the series, and I think it has a chance to pay off. The Leafs blocked 22 shots in Game 6. So shot totals are skewed especially when you see some players with one or two.
I’ve been to a lot of Game 7s. This one will have no fans, so the home ice won’t matter. Toffoli had a two-point game, I felt he is heating up. Maybe he will be the hero, or maybe Jack Campbell will be for Toronto. Morgan Rielly played an exceptional game, he played 34:43, and he blocked five shots. He could be the guy for Toronto. You never know, that’s the point. If I’m the Habs, rolling the dice on the Suzuki line makes a lot of sense.
“We talked about our power play a lot, not only scoring goals but generate some momentum. I thought we did that tonight, and we had a lot of chances after that. Obviously, they have a good goalie over there. We stuck with it and came out of it, do or die.” – – Tyler Toffoli.