The Maple Leafs could do the unthinkable on Wednesday and take a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Washington Capitals.
Whether you tune in because you want to, or just because it seems to be what everyone else is doing in Toronto these days, below are six things you should know Leafs vs Capitals in Game 4.
First off, the Capitals are arguably the best team in the league and they are currently down 2-1 in a best of seven series to the Leafs.
This would be a big deal for any team, except it’s an even bigger deal in Toronto considering the Leafs really have no business sharing the ice with them.
It’s because Toronto finished eighth in the conference while many project Washington to win the Stanley Cup. It’s because Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin is hungry for his first championship ring. And it’s because Washington finished the season with 55 wins and 118 points for the league’s top spot.
Conversely, Toronto won 40 contests to accumulate 95 points, all while boasting a league-worst 15 overtime loses. This stat is matched only by the Carolina Hurricanes, a 2017 bottom-10 finisher.
Maple Leaf Square was LIT during Game 3.
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) April 17, 2017
Expect more of that if the Leafs can get off to a good start.
Amazingly, Toronto’s playoff roster consists of eight rookie skaters essentially dominating their first playoff series, while Washington has one of the NHL’s most experienced lineups. Still, you can’t really tell considering each game has gone to overtime, and even Capitals head coach Barry Trotz is feeling the pressure.
Just look at that eyebrow.
I noticed it last year. Have you guys noticed Barry Trotz eyebrows start doing the chicken dance when he's nervous? https://t.co/FMcTjid8kf
— ALpensfan (@AH54839484) April 18, 2017
It happened one year ago against the Ottawa Senators, so people naturally took notice when it started twitching again last night at the ACC.
— Nate Johnston (@NJohnston44) April 18, 2017
Barry Trotz's twitching eyebrows is the symbol of our collective playoff anxieties.
— James O'Brien 📎 (@cyclelikesedins) April 16, 2017
Toronto’s young guns were on fire last night, particularly the all-rookie line consisting of Auston Matthews, Zach Hyman, and William Nylander.
Matthews had a goal, an assist, and six shots, while Nylander also found the back of the net on one of his nine opportunities. Prior to Nylander’s goal, however, it was Hyman who created the turnover, and it was Hyman again who drew the Lars Eller high-sticking penalty leading to Tyler Bozak’s overtime heroics.
And just like everyone else, Leafs announcer Joe Bowen absolutely lost his mind.
Heading into Game 4 the Capitals will have their hands full playing a team that really has nothing to lose. With this mentality alongside the hockey crazed Leafs Nation, a 3-1 Toronto lead heading back to Washington doesn’t seem too unrealistic. Bearing in mind the Leafs have already exceeded so many expectations, what’s one more game?
Let’s take a moment to honour the real MVP, the real reason for Toronto’s success, the one and only “Dart Guy”. Discovered in Game 2 when the Leafs evened the series, he was invited to watch Game 3 in Toronto.
For Game 4, he will be a guest of radio host John Derringer of Q107 (a sister station to AM640) having become the face of Toronto’s playoff push.
— Flintor (@TheFlintor) April 17, 2017
If Toronto wins tomorrow the hockey world will be flipped on its head, but maybe this isn’t as surprising as everyone makes it out to be. As Matthews told Sportsnet following last night’s game, “I think we feel comfortable going out there against anybody.”
The Leafs aren’t playing like a rookie squad, and the Capitals shouldn’t treat them like one unless they want to be sent packing in five games.
So get your jersey, grab some beers, and rally behind Dart Guy to celebrate the fact that the Leafs could actually win this series.