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Bottom Six Minutes 51: Physicality was a big part of the Canadiens’ win over the Leafs

Getting physical with the Leafs seemed to throw them off their game.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Montreal Canadiens Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

If you told me a month ago that the Montreal Canadiens would beat the Toronto Maple Leafs by a score of 5-2, I’d have believed no part of that sentence. Scoring five goals in a game has been a rarity for this team at the best of times, and doing so while only giving up two against a high-octane team like Toronto? Impossible.

But they did it, and I would argue that a big part of keeping the Leafs to a deuce was the physicality the Habs brought to the game.

For a first example, take a look at this from Alexander Romanov.

Romanov can have the puck here, and is touching it when he lays the body. It allowed Ben Chiarot time and space to take it behind the net, and launch a breakout with Nick Suzuki coming into the frame on the other side. Rather than try a low percentage flip up the boards or ring it around behind the net, Romanov used his body to create space for his partner.

The defensive zone coverage was much better than we’ve become accustomed to this season, and its aggressive nature was part of that. And that aggression was on display at the other end of the ice as well.

The forecheck gave little room to breathe for the Leafs, stalling many breakouts for a team that doesn’t usually have an issue breaking out. Nick Suzuki isn’t known as a player to throw his weight around all that much, but he was getting in the face of Toronto defenders to make it tough for them to get anything going.

Hits aren’t usually a category you want to lead in because getting them generally requires you to not have the puck. But when you’re playing against a Leafs team that you know is likely to out-possess you anyways, you have to find ways to throw them off their game.

They did that with physicality on Monday night, and it led to them getting the better chances despite being out-possessed.

Click the play button below to listen to your full Bottom Six Minutes, also available on your podcast platform of choice. We’ll be back with another episode after Wednesday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres.