The youngest Toronto Maple Leaf had his face to his own goalie and was two steps slow in his playoff debut when Paul Byron scored the winner of Game 1.
The next game, Sandin’s phone exploded with Swedish kudos from friends and family who had spent all night seeing him once a pivotal power-play goal, triggering a win and one of those glorious group hugs. Joe Thornton.
He looked ready in Game 3. The club beat the Montreal Canadiens again.
But his trainer is a handyman who likes to keep his taxi drivers on call. And the Leafs were facing back to back. As a result, Sandin was healthy – for a strong, fresh-legged Travis Dermott – in a relatively easy win in Game 4.
Sandin returned to the ice for Game 5.
One observer may have viewed the 6:11 Sandins skated on Thursday as a learning experience. Another might call it a total disaster. They would both be right.
“As you play playoff hockey you start to understand that there really is no momentum from game to game,” said Jason Spezza, player / sage. resident of the Leafs. “Every day you have a new chance to create new momentum. “
This also goes for the other guys.
Sandin was bullied out of the puck in his own zone by Corey Perry, and his resulting cough led to Joel Armia’s opening strike. Later, Jesperi Kotkaniemi picked Sandin’s pockets behind the Leafs’ net to give the visitors a 3-0 lead and, essentially, end Sandin’s working night. And, perhaps, its series.
The rookie saw a brief shift, alongside safety cover TJ Brodie, in the third period.
Apparently, Sandin was in the lineup to revive an awkward power play from the Upper Unit. But when the Leafs secured a late 5-on-4 opportunity, Sandin took a look at the coaching staff to see Morgan Rielly get hired instead.
Jake Muzzin substituted to run the point on PP2 and beat Carey Price shortly after the penalty expired.
At this point, with the Hall & Oates explosion, it would be hard to say Sandin’s bench is the wrong decision.
In reviewing the tape and assessing what went wrong, Sheldon Keefe was careful not to explicitly mention Sandin – or overtime goat Alex Galchenyuk – on Friday.
The coach noted that in a 4-3 overtime loss, the Maple Leafs scored three goals.
“That should be enough to win the playoffs. You don’t have to look any further, for me, than the fact that they scored three unassisted goals last night. Two were actually unassisted, but for me overtime, the winning goal So that’s three of their four goals, ”Keefe said before taking a flight for Game 6 to Montreal.
“It’s just a testament to the fact that we gave them an offense – and that’s obviously something you can’t afford to do in the playoffs. “
We’re using Sandin as Exhibit A today, but the truth is, the attacking ability has long been a soft spot for the Maple Leafs. The blame is shared as are the high-fives.
While Keefe has rightly questioned the league’s accounting on such stats, Toronto has led the entire NHL in giveaways this season, averaging 12.56 every 60 minutes.
The Canadiens’ forward failure pushed that number to 13.15 in the playoffs. (Of the 16 playoff teams, only Montreal – 13.95 freebies for 60 – is more likely to return the puck.)
“Most of their attack that they’ve had throughout the series has been things we gave them,” Spezza said.
“I think it’s an important element for us not to give them free opportunities. To make them gain their chances. We think when we do this we are a very difficult team to face. “
As Keefe paused before announcing Sandin’s scratch for the most important game of the year on Saturday, confidence took a hard hit.
Of course, hockey is a game of mistakes. But it’s also an error limiting game, especially when you plan to win 3-2.
“I just think that with Rasmus the gains can be very important for us in terms of skills and what he can bring. It requires a little extra patience on our part, ”said Keefe. “You want the player to be aware of the mistake, which I think is pretty obvious in itself. They know that. But it’s more just a matter of knowing what was available there, what was the best game, and then you park it and move on. at. “
May is not the month of patience.
Urgency is in order.
And if you hesitate to make decisions with the puck under empty stands, how do you react with 2,500 pent-up enemy voices raining down?
Sure, Dermott didn’t wow in his one-game playoff look like Sandin did in Game 2, but he didn’t cringe and sweat a city either.
Keefe said informing Dermott that he had (temporarily) lost his job to Sandin at the start of the playoffs was a “difficult discussion.” Keefe also told him to stay ready.
” I know [assistant coach] Dave Hakstol trusts [Dermott] and will put [him] on the ice to defend themselves, and [he] can play against any line, ”Keefe said earlier in the week.
Sandin is the worst under-3 team in the series despite having sheltered minutes. Canadians are now squeezing it as a Cuban sandwich.
In nine regular season games, Sandin had two giveaways. He played five to four playoff games.
The playoffs are a ruthless beast. Rasmus Sandin is a great talent whose day will come.
“He’s a young defender – you’re going to make mistakes. You are also going to make mistakes when you played 20 years in the league, ”said his partner Zach Bogosian.
“Now is not the time to dwell too long. We have a big game tomorrow night. “