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Did Mike Babcock’s cold feet cost the Leafs?

It sure looks like it.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Toronto Maple Leafs at Boston Bruins Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The first big decision of this series needed to be made about five minutes into Game 1.

On the power play, the Bruins’ first unit, led by Torey Krug, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, rushed over the blue line. Krug feathered the puck ahead to Marchand, who beat Frederik Andersen for the first goal of the series.

You can see the play, in all its glory, below:

I’m not sure about the NBCSN feed, but on NESN, Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley immediately raised the spectre of the offside challenge.

Given the situation (an early goal-against on the road in a playoff game), you’d think the Leafs would’ve been all over it.

You’d be wrong.

Mike Babcock elected to let the play go unchallenged, and it stood. The Leafs got the goal back shortly thereafter, but ultimately lost, 5-1.

Was the non-challenge the right call? It doesn’t look like it.


At this angle, it looks like Brad Marchand (top of the frame) is in the zone and the puck is not. The linesman is staring right down the line, and he made the call.

It’s important to remember that if you challenge a goal for being offside and lose, it’s a minor penalty; this is probably what dominated Babcock’s thoughts.

“Do I really want to be down 1-0 and back on the penalty kill five minutes into Game 1?”

It may seem heavy to heap this all on Babcock, but he’s the head coach. Ultimately, he has to make the decisions.

Maybe his video guy said there wasn’t enough there to risk the second penalty, or maybe a closer look at a different angle showed something we can’t see.

Either way, this was a big decision, and was one that the Leafs appeared to get wrong.


Should Babcock have challenged the play?

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