Through the first two games the Toronto/Boston series has been a nasty war at times, climaxing with Nazem Kadri's awful cross-check to the head of Jake DeBrusk.
But there was a noticeable difference in game three. And it was a direct result of the Kadri incident, though not necessarily what we expected.
Many would expect Toronto would struggle without the suspended Kadri, who, before his boneheaded hit, was a key player in game two. But instead of resorting to Boston's style of play - which Kadri is excellent at - Toronto found a way to play a speedier, skill game and take the win in game 3 and take a 2-1 series lead. They played their game and Boston couldn't match on that night.
In calming down Boston's chaotic game plan, the Leafs got a big assist from the NHL and the officials.
It seems the NHL has cracked down on the officiating. It started the night before game 3 in Toronto. It is noticeable in all series.
The officials had been fairly lenient at the beginning of the post-season, leading to a lot of emotional blow ups. There have been incidents in nearly all series, most notably in Boston/Toronto and Vegas/San Jose. But the NHL has seemingly issued a mid-round-one mandate to make more calls and managing the games better. They want to keep a lid on the boiling-over pot of emotional hockey playoffs before it leads to more incidents like we are seeing.
That is good news for the Toronto Maple Leafs. And as enjoyable as the wars of the first round have been, it is good news for hockey fans.