Maple Leafs vs Bruins: For the second year in a row, the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs will face off in the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Just like last year, the former will have home-ice advantage. This proved to be a difference maker last year in Game 7 and could wind up being the difference again.
Maple Leafs vs Bruins Live
This year, the biggest changes to each lineup include John Tavares signing with the Maple Leafs last summer and Toronto trading for Jake Muzzin from the Los Angeles Kings before the NHL trade deadline. The biggest Boston moves include acquiring Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson at the NHL trade deadline. A key move for the Bruins could be the signing of Jaroslav Halak if Tuukka Rask has issues in the series.
That phrase has haunted Maple Leafs fans since 2013, when the team squandered a three-goal third-period lead in Game 7 and fell to the Bruins in Round 1. It was Toronto’s first playoff appearance of the salary cap era and what followed was another lost journey into the wilderness as they rebuilt the roster from the ground up over three straight miserable seasons.
The arrival of Auston Matthews got Toronto back on track and after being eliminated by Washington in their 2017 playoff return, the Leafs again met their post-season rivals from Boston in 2018 over another seven-game series. This time, Toronto held a 4-3 lead heading into the third, when they melted away by again allowing four unanswered Bruins goals.
When Boston went on its 19-game point streak from Jan. 29 to March 9, David Pastrnak wasn’t in the lineup for 12 of those games and the Bruins didn’t miss a beat. While Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand continued to be point-per-game-or-better players in his absence, the support scoring from second-line centre David Krejci and winger Jake DeBrusk was a significant factor in keeping the train chugging.
Without Pastrnak, Krejci had six goals and 16 points and DeBrusk eight goals and 15 points in 12 and 10 games, respectively. The fact Krejci, at 32, is having one of the best offensive seasons of his career has been a boon to the Bruins. Coming off a 44-point season (in 67 games), that Krejci has managed to get back up over 70 points for just the second time – matching a career-high 73 points from 2008-09 – has breathed new life into Boston’s support scoring.
If Krejci is rolling, linemate DeBrusk likely will be as well. DeBrusk also adds that heavy hockey element that many believe will be an issue come playoff time for Toronto. Boston is tough enough to beat with just the one line, but if this second unit is causing a physical hassle to the Leafs and contributing on offence it calls into question Toronto’s perceived advantage at forward. Since the trade deadline, the Bruins average more goals per game than the Leafs.