By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj
It’s Stanley Cup Playoff time, baby.
For the 16th time in league history, the Boston Bruins will meet the Toronto Maple Leafs in an Original Six, best-of-seven series in the Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Coming into the postseason, the Bruins and the Leafs have been atop the regular season standings for much of the year, with the Bruins finishing second in the Atlantic division and third in the NHL. The Maple Leafs concluded the 2018-19 campaign third in the Atlantic but finished as the seventh-best team in the NHL’s league standings.
Game One Information:
Arena: TD Garden – Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Home: Boston Bruins (49-24-9)
Away: Toronto Maple Leafs (46-28-8)
BOS: Tuukka Rask 27-13-5 .912 SV% 2.48 GAA Last Game: 16 Saves in 6-3 loss to TBL
TOR: Frederik Andersen 36-16-7 .917 SV% 2.77 GAA Last Game: 44 Saves in 6-5 loss to MTL
Boston Bruins Starting Lineup:
Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak
DeBrusk – Krejci – Kuhlman
Johansson – Coyle – Heinen
Nordstrom – Acciari – Wagner
Chara – McAvoy
Krug – Carlo
Grzelcyk – Clifton
Brad Marchand has had an incredible 2018-19 season for not only the Bruins but himself as well. The Nova Scotia native hit the 100-point plateau to become the first player in a Bruins sweater since Joe Thornton to hit such mark. Dating back to March 1st, Marchand has 10-15-25 numbers within those sixteen games and he looks to continue that dominance against Toronto.
In that same time span, it was offseason signing John Tavares that led the Maple Leafs in points since the beginning of March, scoring eleven goals, nine assists, for 20 points in 18 games played. Tavares finished the year with 47-41-88 numbers in a full 82-game season, the highest single-season point total in his entire NHL career that dates back to the 2009-10 season.
Patrice Bergeron has been quite hot for the Bruins all season – as usual. The 33-year-old Canadian set a new career-high with 79 points on the season. Bergeron has scored ten goals and helped out on eleven others for 21 totals points in the last 17 games since March 1st. Bergeron’s linemates David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand have been reaping the benefits from Bergeron’s stellar season offensively and defensively.
Mitch Marner will be the next Maple Leaf to have some serious contract issues to sort out once the playoffs conclude but in the meantime, Marner will continue to be a serious threat to the opposing defence and goaltenders for years to come. Marner tallied 4-15-19 numbers in the last fifteen games he played in, extending his season totals to 26-68-94 in all of the 82 games. Along with Matthews, Tavares, Nylander, Hyman, and so on, the Leafs possess a dangerous offensive core for the Bruins.
Frederik Andersen has been one of the biggest question marks for Toronto’s playoff run in 2018-19. Numerous analysts and broadcasters of the sport agree that Andersen needs to be the best player on not only the Maple Leafs but on both teams if Toronto wants to advance to Round Two. However, since March 1st, Andersen is 6-3-4 with a .898 save percentage and a 3.40 goals-against-average. Those are well below the numbers required from him in this best-of-seven series against Boston.
The goalie on the opposite end of the arena tonight – Tuukka Rask – has not been fantastic either. Rask has a 6-5-0 record in his last eleven starts, possessing a .881 save percentage and a 2.89 GAA. Rask has had a good overall campaign for the B’s, but he too will need to be on the top of his game in order to win four games against the Leafs. Tuukka will be depended on in some of these upcoming games.
Nazem Kadri has fallen down the depth charts in Toronto ever since John Tavares walked into the dressing room, but he is still depended on by the Leafs management in order to produce some depth scoring for the Maple Leafs. With that said, Kadri only has a single goal in the last 14 games played and has a -3 rating in that time as well.
Bruins vs Leafs – Game One Outlook
From the beginning of the season back in October, it was assumed that the Boston Bruins would once again battle the Toronto Maple Leafs in the opening round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. While both franchises made changes in the offseason, they still did not match up well on paper to overtake the Tampa Bay Lightning for the top divisional spot in the Atlantic and that is exactly what turned out to be the case.
The Bruins finished second in the Atlantic, with Toronto only seven points behind in the third position. As we prepare to go to war for what is likely to be another seven-game series, it is important to remember that you may not have any fingernails remaining when one team eventually gets eliminated – this series is going to be close.
The Bruins will look to score first and keep it going from there as they have found previous success during the regular season when doing so, finishing with a combined record of 34-7-5 when scoring the game’s first goal. However, Toronto will look to do the same thing and quiet down the roaring Bruins home crowd in the TD Garden.
Either way, it will all come down to the men in between the pipes. Whoever plays the best in the crease will come out victorious tonight and most likely in the series as that is how it has been over the course of their history as Original Six franchises.
Nonetheless, we are oh-so-close to the 7:10pm EST puck drop in the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Get ready, it’s about to get fun.