Bruins’ Tuukka Rask Having MVP Caliber Postseason

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Boston Bruins at Carolina Hurricanes

( Photo Credit: CBSSports.com )

By: Yanni Latzanakis  |  Follow Me On Twitter:  @yanlatz

The Bruins are going on an absolute tear this postseason and are getting contributions from up and down the lineup. On Thursday night, the Bruins advanced to their third Stanley Cup Final appearance since 2011, and Tuukka Rask is a big reason why.

A lot has been said about Tuukka Rask and his inconsistency in the playoffs throughout his career in Boston (and I’ll admit, I was one of those people). It seemed as though he could not break through and become the performer that the Bruins needed to get past strong teams like the Chicago Blackhawks in 2013 and the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2018. That perception has all been changed this season, and Tuukka Rask has emerged as the clear Conn Smyth trophy winner as the MVP of the playoffs.

The Bruins this offseason went out and signed Jaroslav Halak, a veteran starting goaltender to split the time in the regular season with Tuukka Rask. The two goaltenders split the regular season virtually equally with Halak getting 37 starts and Rask with 45 in order to keep Rask fresh for a deep playoff run – and boy has that worked out well. A lot of folks also think the signing was to have a solid Plan B if Tuukka struggled at all during the postseason.

In the first round against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tuukka Rask and Frederik Anderson went head to head which was a great goaltending battle. Despite the Leafs taking the Bruins to a game seven again, Tuukka Rask stood on his head in the final game of the first round and defeated the Maple Leafs with 32 saves on 33 shots for a .970 save percentage and a 5-1 victory.

In the Eastern Conference second-round series, Tuukka and the Black ‘N Gold saw the Columbus Blue Jackets and two-time Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky. Another monster goaltending matchup and Tuukka stole the show. After game five, Blue Jackets coach stated that his team “dented” Tuukka Rask with three late third period goals. However, when game six came around, Tuukka Rask was clearly unfazed by the coaches comments and posted a 39 save shutout that propelled the Bruins into the Eastern Conference Finals.

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In Tuukka Rask’s career Conference Finals, he has not lost a single game in his career. In 2013, Rask and the Bruins swept Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins in the East Finals to move on to the Stanley Cup Finals. On Thursday night, Rask would continue his Eastern Conference Finals dominance and remains a perfect 8-0 and becomes just the seventh goaltender in NHL history to win at least eight straight games in the conference finals.

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In Game three against Carolina in Raleigh, the Hurricanes came out buzzing, and Tuukka stood on his head once again for the Bruins as the Hurricanes peppered Rask with 20 shots in the first period but did not beat number 40 in Black ‘N Gold. Rask gave the Bruins a chance to take a three nothing series lead, and they might be playing a game five on Saturday night if it wasn’t for Tuukka’s performance in game three.

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In series-clinching games in these playoffs, Rask stopped 90 of 91 shots with a 5-1 win against Toronto in game seven, a 3-0 shutout against Columbus in game six, and a 4-0 shutout in game four against Carolina.

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Rask’s play has been nothing short of amazing this postseason and who better to compare this year’s Tuukka Rask to 2011 Stanley Cup Playoff MVP Tim Thomas.

Through the 2011 Conference Finals, Tim Thomas posted a 12-6 record with a 2.29 goals against average and a .929 save percentage along with two shutouts. Through the 2019 Conference Finals, Tuukka Rask has posted a 12-5 record with a 1.84 (!!) goals against average and a .942 save percentage with two shutouts. Rask also passed Gerry Cheevers and Tim Thomas with three series-clinching shutouts that are the most in Boston Bruins history.

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Tuukka Rask has by far been nothing short of incredible this season and has shown up all the Rask haters and doubters in which I will admit, I had doubted him before. But, I am so proud to admit that I was wrong and happy for Tuukka and the Bruins. He is the clear-cut favorite for the Conn Smyth trophy thus far, and it really isn’t even close. Whoever the Bruins face in the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals, it will be a tough matchup for the Bruins, but if Tuukka Rask plays like he has been this postseason, the Bruins have a very good chance of hoisting Lord Stanley.

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Bruins Post-Game Recap: ECQF Game 7: Toronto at Boston

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj 

Tonight, it ends. The first-round matchup between the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs see yet another Game 7. Both teams have had strong games, weak games, and everything in between. For one team, they move on to face the Columbus Blue Jackets in Round Two, the other heads home for the offseason.

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: TD Garden – Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Home: Boston Bruins (3-3)

Away: Toronto Maple Leafs (3-3)

Last Game Result: Bruins won 4-2

Bruins Gameday Lineup:

Everything remains the same for the Bruins after Sunday’s Game 6 victory in Toronto. Tuukka Rask and Frederik Andersen are the starting goaltenders for Boston and Toronto.

First Period:

Right out of the gate, the Bruins attacked the Leafs defence with some quick shots and a close wraparound shot by David Pastrnak. Frederik Andersen seemed a tad bit slow on the wraparound but makes the save nonetheless. Boston looking not too bad to start off this Game 7. Not too long after, Tuukka Rask makes a large save for himself on Auston Matthews right in the slot.

Later in the early stages to the period, the Bruins with some solid shots on goal or some that just miss by a hair. Torey Krug lightens up the crowd even more than they already are with a huge hit on Trevor Moore that knocks his helmet off. After a solid Game 6, Krug is looking to have another big playoff game tonight.

As the period continued, Boston seemed to relax a little or Toronto just had their legs more. Both teams commit numerous icings consecutively but the Leafs are the ones getting shots and pressure on the Bruins defence. Tuukka Rask has made some good stops including some huge saves on Mitch Marner but the B’s need to be better defensively.

With around five minutes to go in the opening frame, the Bruins fourth line strikes first. Noel Acciari picks off a breakout pass by the Maple Leafs just on the line, feeding it to Sean Kuraly. Kuraly drives the puck in deeper, getting a shot on, but it is Joakim Nordstrom that somehow beats Andersen right in front of him. The puck found the smallest gap imaginable and quite frankly, I’m not sure Nordstrom even saw that opening. No matter what, Bruins are up 1-0 late in the first.

With the crowd going crazy in the TD Garden, Jake Gardiner makes a terrible turnover behind his own net with Kuhlman close behind him, leading the puck to Marcus Johansson who spins and shoots the puck past Andersen. Johansson finally gets on the board for his first goal of the postseason and Boston takes a big 2-0 lead late in the frame. With the constant pressure on the top-six by the Leafs, the Bruins’ bottom-six needs to show up and so far, they are.

As the final seconds tick away, Boston nearly strikes again with some good chances by DeBrusk, (who is all over the puck tonight) and Pastrnak. However, Andersen makes a big toe save and we enter the first intermission.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 11 TOR: 12

Score: 2-0 Bruins – Goals: Nordstrom (2) Assists: Grzelcyk (4), Kuraly (1); Johansson (1) Unassisted

Second Period:

In the first five minutes, Bruins get some chances off a long airborne pass to Pastrnak but some fanned shots don’t result into anything. Exactly 3:54 into the period, John Tavares comes onto the ice, gets the puck, and snipes one far-side on Tuukka Rask to cut into Boston’s lead. Tyler Ennis does a great job taking the puck away from the Bruins player – resulting in the goal. 2-1 Bruins early in the second.

The goal for Toronto gave them tons of momentum as the Matthews line puts hard pressure on with some high-quality shots and chances but with the help of Rask’s play in net, Boston keeps it 2-1. The Bruins need a big hit or preferably, another goal to shift the momentum once again.

Eight minutes into the second, Zdeno Chara does a great job pinching to keep the puck in the offensive zone. As a result, Danton Heinen rips a wrist shot at Andersen’s chest, leaving a juicy rebound for Brad Marchand. Marchand shifts the puck to his backhand but cannot lift the shot over the sprawling Andersen. Extremely close opportunity to extend the lead to two goals again.

In a net-front battle, Brandon Carlo cross-checks the back of Andreas Johnsson and the officials are not going to have it and Carlo goes to the box for two minutes. I personally think it is a weak call, but it is called so Boston heads to the penalty-kill. The Maple Leafs get some close calls with the scary threats of Matthews, Marner, Tavares, and Rielly but a lot of missed shots keep it a one-goal game. Boston successfully kills off the penalty.

Even though the game is back to 5-on-5, Boston is allowing the Leafs to walk all around their zone and they fully rely on Tuukka Rask in the net. Fortunately, Rask has made some big saves but the five skaters on the ice wearing the Spoked-B are chasing the Maple Leafs and cannot form any sort of breakout whatsoever.

Eventually, the Bruins get some offensive control of their own and the team is able to make a successful line change while in Toronto’s zone. In the final six minutes or so, the B’s have been able to shut down a lot of the chances against Rask and they have looked a bit better since the goal by Tavares.

With all of that, the second period ends there – only twenty minutes remain in Game Seven. The Boston Bruins finished the frame with a lot better pressure and much better control. Not as many shots, but a good end to the period. Also, some post-whistle pushing and shoving before we head into the second intermission.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 19 TOR: 25

Score: 2-1 Bruins – Goals: Tavares (2) Assists: Ennis (2)

Third Period:

Twenty minutes to go… and the Bruins strike early. Noel Acciari leaves the puck for Sean Kuraly in the neutral zone. Kuraly weaves into the Leafs zone with slick hands and snipes it clean past Rask. The clutch play by Sean Kuraly in the playoffs continue with this massive insurance goal less than three minutes into the third period. He has been a key player for Boston in the two games that he has returned.

With 14:41 to go in the third, the linesman catches the Bruins with six players on the ice – too-many-men – a bench minor that will put Boston to the penalty-kill for the second time tonight. Boston kills off the penalty will almost ease and it is back to 5-on-5, impressive to be honest.

As the minutes go by, the Bruins play gets better and better. All of a sudden, the Maple Leafs are having trouble entering the zone, especially Mitch Marner and John Tavares. Boston is not laying back, but not taking risks either. It is a calm style of game for the Bruins right now and it is exactly what they want.

Toronto did not have many great opportunities to score in the final regulation period, except for a close call that took a weird bounce off of the post. Mike Babcock pulled Andersen with roughly three minutes to go in the game and Sean Kuraly makes a nice play to allow Krejci to find Charlie Coyle who buries it in the open cage. Bruins take a 4-1 lead and are only minutes away from round two. Bergeron added an empty-net goal in the final seconds to make it 5-1.

And with that, the Boston Bruins eliminate the Toronto Maple Leafs in seven games and advance to the second round against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 32 TOR: 33

Final: 5-1 Bruins – BOS wins series 4-3

Max’s Three Stars

1st Star: BOS G Tuukka Rask – 28 Saves, .970 SV%

2nd Star: BOS F Sean Kuraly – 1 Goal, 1 Assist, 3 Shots, 50% Faceoffs

3rd Star: BOS F Joakim Nordstrom – 1 Goal, 1 Assist, 3 Shots

7 Factors That Will Decide Game 7 Between the Bruins and Maple Leafs

Illustration for article titled Tuukka Rask Ruined The Maple Leafs' Best And Maybe Last Chance

(Claus Andersen-Getty Images)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @lucaspearson_

Goaltending

I mean, of course this was going to be on the list. We’ve seen really strong, and really weak goaltending from both Tuukka Rask and Frederik Anderson over the past two series. Outside of a softy or two from both guys, the two have been really solid throughout the first six games of this series. Rask has a .921 save percentage with a 2.54 GAA and Anderson has a .925 SV% and a 2.70 GAA. With the potency of both offenses and some questionable defense by both teams, I can’t see this being a 1-0 game. There will be goals, it’s just a matter of who can make the saves when it matters.

Can the Offensive Stars Produce?

The superstars on both sides have been very on and off all series. Austin Matthews has lead the way for Toronto, scoring five goals in the six games (but in all honesty, hasn’t really dominated at any point). The Bruins top defensive pair of Charlie Mcavoy and Zdeno Chara have done an excellent job shutting down the John Tavares and Mitch Marner line, but with all of that talent, how long can that last?

The trio of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak have been very streaky throughout the series for the Bruins. We all know how dangerous they can be when they’re on their game (they all absolutely torched the Leafs last series) but something has been off with them this series and for the Bruins sake, that better change.

Leafs vs Bruins

(THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)

Special Teams

We’ve seen how important special teams have been in this series and throughout the entire playoffs. The Nashville Predators just fell to the Dallas Stars, largely in part to their horrendous powerplay (going 0-15 in the series). Boston and Toronto both have very good powerplays, with Toronto converting on 21.4% of their PP chances and the Bruins scoring on a staggering 43.8% of their chances. There’s no question the game will be a chippy one and I’d assume the referees arms will stay down for most of the game, but when a penalty is called, converting on that opportunity will be huge.

Forechecking

In Game 7 last year, the Bruins hard-nosed forechecking was a big reason why they were able to come back and take the lead late. In the games the Bruins have lost this series, they haven’t been able to maintain consistent pressure in the Leafs zone. The Maple Leafs defense is very susceptible to making mistakes with the puck when pressured so that needs to be the Bruins #1 priority throughout this game.

Forechecking obviously isn’t just a component of the Bruins game, it’s just as important for the Leafs to keep the pressure on the Bs. Putting pressure on smaller guys like Torey Krug and Matt Grzelcyk will be huge for the Maple Leafs, they’re easier to out-muscle compared to the rest of the d-core and getting them to cough up the puck will lead to big-time chances for Toronto. Isolating Zdeno Chara is also just as key, as he certainly doesn’t have the legs to keep up with Toronto’s speedy forwards.

Depth Scoring

Depth scoring is a key component of every single game and it’s just magnified in the playoffs. Guys like Charlie Coyle and Andreas Johnsson (who both have had very strong series) have key roles with their respective clubs. If the big names aren’t able to step up, look for these middle-six guys to pick up the slack.

(Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

Maintaining a Lead

Scoring the first goal is massive, but keeping that lead is even more important. The team that has been ahead going into the third period has won every game this series and with every player fighting for their playoff lives, there’s sure to be a lot of pressure on both sides of the bench. Looking at the history between these two teams, the Maple Leafs have held the lead going in to the 3rd period in the past two game 7s, but have lost both after outstanding comebacks by the Bruins. If the Maple Leafs or the Bruins want to get to the next round, maintaining a lead will be the reason they get there.

Matchups

Despite having a combined -10 rating in the series, Nikita Zaitzev and Jake Muzzin have done a pretty good job at keeping the Bruins top line in check. Unlike last series, the Bruins top line hasn’t been nearly as good. They haven’t been able to maintain possession of the puck quite as much and their cycling game, which leads to the majority of their chances, is nothing like it has been all season long. If Toronto wants to keep this line at bay, trying to keep this matchup will be their best bet.

As I said before, Mcavoy and Chara have done an excellent job holding Tavares and Marner to minimal offense in this series. With last change and home ice advantage, coach Bruce Cassidy will have to be on his game to keep the matchups in he wants throughout his lineup.

Regardless of the outcome, this should be a great game as it always is. I’ve had Bruins in seven from the start and I’m sticking with that pick. Go Bs.

Bruins Post-Game Recap: ECQF Game 5: Toronto at Boston

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj 

On Wednesday night, the Boston Bruins tied up their Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals series against the Toronto Maple Leafs with a 6-4 victory in Toronto. With the win, Boston regains home-ice advantage in what is now a best-of-three series. The winner of tonight’s Game 5 will have the opportunity to end the series on Sunday in Game 6.

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: TD Garden – Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Home: Boston Bruins (2-2)

Away: Toronto Maple Leafs (2-2)

Last Game Result: Bruins won 6-4

Bruins Gameday Lineup:

Sean Kuraly makes his long-awaited return to the lineup after dealing with a hand injury since late March while Joakim Nordstrom is the healthy scratch to allow Kuraly back in the forward lines.

First Period:

The first period for this critical Game 5 was back and forth for all twenty minutes but at no time did either team “dominate” the other. Bruce Cassidy went with the Wagner-Kuraly-Acciari against that top line of the Maple Leafs off the opening draw, but as the period went on, we began to see more of a Bergeron/Tavares matchup on the ice.

The Leafs did have a lot of pressure in the offensive zone, putting some good shots on Tuukka Rask in the first half of the period, but the Bruins managed to get the puck out of the zone most of the time. On too many occasions, Toronto had possession of the puck and winning the battles along the boards.

Regardless, Rask made the saves he needed to make and Boston did get a few opportunities on some rushes of their own. Both Toronto and Boston stayed firm in the defensive zone, protecting the middle of the ice and forcing the offence to use the outside of the zone to get their chances. Neither team is making many mistakes and it made for a tight frame.

With three minutes to go, Zach Hyman gets called on a tripping minor that many people think was a light call, however, Boston is going to the first power-play of the game. On the man-advantage, both David Pastrnak and Jake DeBrusk get close chances, but either the shot missed the cage, or was stopped by Frederik Andersen. Bruins cannot score and the buzzer sounds for the first.

After the whistle, Auston Matthews took some shots at Zdeno Chara to try and get under the skin of the captain but to no avail. It was much better last six minutes for the Bruins than Toronto and that momentum needs to be used heading into an important second period.

Shots On Goal: BOS: 6 TOR: 7

Score: 0-0

Second Period

Toronto opens the second period with some good shots but Tuukka Rask looks a lot calmer and relaxed at this stage of the game compared to Wednesday in Toronto. Auston Matthews took some shots at the chest of Rask as well as some slight deflection shots but score stays scoreless.

Less than five minutes into the frame, Boston begins to make some passes around the Maple Leafs’ zone, resulting in a hooking minor against Patrick Marleau on David Krejci. Some of the best chances so far on the end of either team came from that man-advantage, including a Pastrnak one-timer that bounced off of Andersen’s pads. Other than that, the Leafs kill the penalty off and we return to 5-on-5.

Nearing the halfway mark of the middle regulation period, the Bruins get a chance off of  Brad Marchand wrist shot that leaves a sneaky rebound to David Pastrnak. Pastrnak’s rebound is batted off of the iron and the side of Andersen and remains out of the net. The Bruins continue the strong offence, but the Leafs are exhausted. A bouncing puck around the boards leads to Mitch Marner who golf swings his stick, hitting the puck up and over the glass – delay-of-game penalty and B’s are back to the power-play.

A weird bouncing rebound off Andersen somehow sets up Kasperi Kapanen on a shorthanded breakaway. Fortunately, Kapanen misses the net high and wide. Bruins, still on the man-advantage, turn it over in the neutral zone, leading Hyman to drive into the zone. Hyman is cut off but crashes hard into the end boards. He is slow to get up to his feet, similar to Game 4. Ultimately, Hyman remains on the bench in some discomfort and the Bruins’ terrible power-play ends there.

Easily the best chance of the game so far comes from David Krejci’s stick. Marchand left the puck for Krejci who took a quick shot and it appeared to cross the line. Even Pastrnak thought it went in, but the call on the ice was no goal by the official by the net. After seeing the replay, the shot rifled where the crossbar and the post meet, cleanly beating Andersen but the game remains nodded at zero.

Late in the frame, still 0-0, Tyler Ennis makes a strong move to the net around Matt Grzelcyk, curling in front of Rask but Tuukka stays strong and firm, stopping the chance cleanly. About a minute following, Kapanen takes a rip at Rask as well and cannot find the back of the net. Game 5 heads into the third and final period with a 0-0 tie.

It has been a very tight, defense-first type of hockey game with neither team giving up a chance to score or even get high-quality shots on goal. Only a combined 31 shots have hit the goaltenders and that is due to the lack of shots hitting the net and the high traffic in the slot area. In addition to the middle-heavy defence, shots are coming from the point. It really seems like the next goal scored with be the game-winning tally.

Shots On Goal: BOS: 15 TOR: 16

Score: 0-0

Third Period:

In a game where it truly seems like the next goal will win it, both teams come out with Boston taking the best chances early. A few icing calls against Toronto led to some shots against the tired Leafs unit. Sean Kuraly also got a short rush and ripped a quick wrister that hit Travis Dermott and then fell over top of Dermott. Good chances but still nothing.

Not long after, the Leafs try to get a rush of their own with Connor Brown, who has had a great game all over the ice, takes a shot that hits the side of the cage and gloved down by Rask. At the same time, Brown gets absolutely levelled by Chris Wagner with a hard collision. Charlie Coyle came right back with one of his own as well. Not many hard hits, but Boston may look to go that route at this stage.

With around 12 minutes left to tick away in the third, right before the TV timeout, the Bruins are called on a too-many-men call. A tough call to hear – sending Toronto to their first power-play of the night. Toronto blasted some bombs and got some solid shots on net too, but Boston holds on to kill the entire two minutes off.

With 8:27 remaining, Jake Muzzin makes a brilliant feed to Auston Matthews on the opposite side of the zone who blasts it past Rask to finally put a goal on the board. However, Cassidy challenges for goalie interference on Zach Hyman. On the screen, it appears that there was some contact with Rask in front of the net, but the call on the ice stands – good goal. 1-0 Toronto.

The game started to open up following that goal and it showed. Some intelligent passes by the Leafs lead to a 3-on-2 rush for Toronto – leading to a Kapanen goal past Tuukka Rask. After a tight forty minutes, Toronto takes a 2-0 lead in the game and the Bruins are looking in a tough spot.

The trio of Coyle, McAvoy, and Johansson had some fantastic chances in the dying three minutes with Rask on the bench but somehow the puck never crossed the goal line. Every time it appeared to be close, Andersen or a defenceman somehow got a piece of the puck.

With the goalie pulled, amazing patience by Pastrnak to fake a shot and pass it to Krejci on the other side of Frederik Andersen leads to the first goal for Boston with 43.4 seconds to go. There is some life in not only the players but the fans as well.

The Boston Bruins had a few shots, including one off the faceoff with one second remaining, but too little way too late and the Toronto Maple Leafs win Game 5 on the road, taking a 3-2 series lead heading back to Toronto on Sunday.

Shots On Goal: BOS: 29 TOR: 27

Final Score: 2-1 Maple Leafs

Max’s Three Stars

1st Star: TOR G Frederik Andersen – 28 Saves, .966 SV%

2nd Star: TOR F Kasperi Kapanen – 1 Goal, 1 Assist, 3 Shots, 15:56 TOI

3rd Star: TOR F Auston Matthews – 1 Game-Winning Goal, 5 Shots, 17:44 TOI

With Boston’s season on the line, the series goes back to Toronto on Sunday for Game 6. Puck drop scheduled for 3pm EST.

Boston Bruins Playoff Preview: Round 1 – Game 3

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PHOTO CREDITS: (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj 

After a pair of games in Boston, the first-round matchup between the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs officially makes its way to Toronto, Canada for Game Three. The Bruins tied the series on Saturday with a 4-1 victory after losing Game One by the same score on Thursday.

Game Three Information:

Arena: Scotiabank Arena – Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Home: Toronto Maple Leafs

Away: Boston Bruins

Series: 1-1

Starting Goaltenders:

BOS: Tuukka Rask 1-1-0 .937 SV% 2.02 GAA Last Game: 30 Saves in 4-1 win vs TOR

TOR: Frederik Andersen 1-1-0 .937 SV% 2.50 GAA Last Game: 37 Saves in 4-1 loss vs TOR

Projected Bruins Lineup:

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

DeBrusk – Krejci – Kuhlman

Heinen – Coyle – Backes

Nordstrom – Acciari – Wagner

Chara – McAvoy

Krug – Carlo

Grzelcyk – Kampfer

Per reports from Head Coach Bruce Cassidy, forward Jake DeBrusk and defenceman Torey Krug will be in the lineup for Game Three. DeBrusk took a cross-check to the head by Nazem Kadri, who is facing an in-person hearing today and left the game while Krug left Game Two after taking a massive hit from Jake Muzzin. Connor Clifton (upper-body) is out, Kampfer to replace him and Marcus Johansson remains out with an illness.

Who’s Hot

Charlie Coyle scored the game’s first goal on Saturday, ultimately giving the Bruins the confidence to continue out the game, but his play has been consistent throughout the series so far. Even in the loss in Game One, Coyle had numerous chances and opportunities to score but just could not bury one and he continued that in the second game. With the loss of Leafs’ third line centre, Nazem Kadri, Coyle’s role could be all the more important.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Frederik Andersen may have allowed four goals on Saturday night, but he was one of the only good things that came from Toronto in their Game Two loss. Andersen stopped 37 of the 41 shots Boston threw at him, making some big saves throughout the entire game in order to keep it within reach for the Maple Leafs. If Andersen can continue to be hot in the net at home in the Scotiabank Arena, then the Leafs could have the momentum moving forward.

Jake DeBrusk does not have a point in either of the two games, but his usual work-horse attitude and play were present in both games, but especially in Game Two. DeBrusk managed to get under the skin of Kadri, resulting in the terrible cross-check by the Leafs forward. Jake had four hits on the night and was a beast on the forecheck, as he often is during gametime. It is only a matter of time for when that first goal comes.

Mitch Marner was held to zero points in Game Two, but in Game One, it was all him, scoring a pair of goals including a short-handed penalty shot past Tuukka Rask. Marner played 20:28 on Saturday night with over six minutes of speciality team time as well. Mitch could arguably be the biggest threat for the Bruins defence for the entirety of the series.

Who’s Not

William Nylander has had a rough 2018-19 season in general, with all the contract issues and then the lack of production once he started to play again, but that was only amplified on Saturday night in Boston, as he found himself on the wrong end of too many negative plays, including a terrible mishap that led to Heinen’s 3-0 goal for the B’s. The young forward also had a team-high three giveaways during his 13:56 TOI. Nylander was skating down the middle on the Leafs’ third line, replacing Kadri.

For all of the players that were struggling on the Bruins after the first game, did much better for the second. Every single player on the Bruins roster played their part and did their job to ultimately get the win and tie the series at one apiece. Boston will look to continue that ideology moving forward into Game Three.

Jake Muzzin had a terrible night on the Leafs blue line and only had one good play – a huge hit that injured Torey Krug. Other than that, Muzzin turned the puck over twice (on the statsheet), and made a crucial error that led to Marchand’s first-period tally. When Torey Krug lofted a puck up the ice, Muzzin tried to grab it with his hand, missing, leading to a 2-on-1 for Pastrnak and Marchand, leading to one of the best goals so far in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Muzzin is supposed to be the best defenceman on the roster for Toronto and he needs to be better.

Bruins vs Leafs – Game Three Outlook

The script was flipped on Saturday when the Bruins came back from a dismal Game One to dominate for a 4-1 final score. A change from Game One, the Bruins were aggressive on the forecheck and made a successful hit on every Leafs player that moved at any place on the ice. Even players like David Pastrnak and Jake DeBrusk were throwing the body.

The physical play of Boston kept the Leafs weary and afraid to push into the zone further, as a lot of their shots on goal came from the point and far along the boards. Their only goal came off of a deflection from one of these point shots and that strategy could be evident in Game Three.

Boston’s shots came right around the net of Frederik Andersen, mainly due to the turnovers on breakout passes by the Maple Leafs defenseman. One of the best chances that did not cross the red line came off of a turnover in the slot, leading to a David Krejci shot and a rebound from Heinen that was robbed by Andersen.

Regardless, the goaltenders of both teams will need to be on fire once again and the defence will need to prevent chances. No matter how far this series goes, that narrative will be the case for both franchises. Toronto will also have the home-ice for the first time this postseason, so expect an energetic Toronto crowd.

Game Three puck drop is scheduled for 7:00pm EST from the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

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Boston Bruins Playoffs Preview: Round 1 – Game 1

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

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)

Series: 0-0

Starting Goaltenders:

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 

Who’s Hot

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.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (tsn.ca)

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.

Who’s Not

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.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

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.

Interested in going to any Boston Bruins 2019 Stanley Cup Playoff games or the last regular season contests for the Providence Bruins? Take a look at the upcoming schedule and ticket availability from SeatGiant. Click the links below and use discount code BNGP to save a little cash!

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Rask & Halak Combination Biggest Advantage For Bruins vs. Maple Leafs

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Boston Globe)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj 

In the sport of ice hockey, goaltending is one of the most important aspects of the game. Quite often, in the National Hockey League, games are won specifically because of a solid performance in net by the goalie. This season, we have seen that numerous times throughout the league for many different teams.

In Boston, Tuukka Rask has been the number one goalie for the majority of the past decade and he has, for the most part, been a solid goalie, earning that spot over many solid seasons. Following the Bruins 2011 Stanley Cup run that resulted in them winning the prestigious trophy, Tuukka Rask took over from Tim Thomas – the Conn Smythe winner.

Rask has played in 494 games in the Boston Bruins sweater after being traded to Boston in 2006 in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs that sent Andrew Raycroft to the capital city of Ontario. Rask made his NHL debut against the franchise that drafted him in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, stopping 30 of the 32 shots he faced that night.

Since that initial taste of NHL experience, the 32-year-old Finnish goaltender now has 265 wins, 150 losses, 58 ties/shootout/overtime losses, and 45 shutouts. Among that, Rask holds numerous franchise records including most career wins (265), most career saves (12,591), and save percentage (.922). Tuukka is also in the top ten for the majority of the major statistical categories that are being tracked.

In the 2018-19 season, Rask has a 27-13-5 record with a .912 save percentage and a 2.48 goals-against-average in 46 games started. Tuukka has only one game played against the Maple Leafs this season – stopping 30 of the 32 shots against him in a 3-2 win over Toronto on January 12th. While Rask has had a solid season, he has had a few games, like every goaltender, that are below average.

On five occasions, Rask allowed five goals in a single game and was pulled from the net in two of them. On the flip side, Rask has four shutouts and an impressive eleven games allowing only one goal. In each of those games, the Bruins won or lost in overtime or a shootout.

Early on, Rask failed to find his consistent game that we are used to seeing, but thankfully, the Bruins had some serious help behind him – Jaroslav Halak.

Halak joined the Bruins on the first day of free agency in this past offseason, signing a two-year deal worth $2.75 million annually. It confirmed that Halak will play in his 13th NHL season – the first in Boston. Within the 40 games he’s played in, Jaroslav has helped the Bruins earn 46 points in his 22 wins and four post-regulation losses in addition to his 11 regulation losses that he amounted to this year.

At 33 years of age, Halak is having his best season in the net since the 2009-10 season when he finished the year with a 26-13-5 record, a .924 save percentage and a 2.40 GAA with the Montreal Canadiens. The Bratislava, Czechoslovakia native is top ten in both of the main goalie stats in the entire league and he is continuing to play at that level, picking up his fifth shutout of the season in Thursday’s 3-0 win over the Wild.

With a quick trip over to Toronto, their goaltending situation right now is not nearly as sturdy as the Bruins appear to be. That fact only got more interesting on Friday when news that backup goaltender Garret Sparks’ equipment is no longer in the Leafs’ dressing room and Toronto Marlies goalie, Michael Hutchinson was recalled by the organization to play in the big leagues.

Put all of that into the same idea that starting netminder Frederik Andersen has not been consistently good for the past couple months and the worry can begin to form for the Maple Leafs with the playoffs only about a week away. Frederik Andersen is expected to get every single one of the starts in-goal if it goes seven games, that could be an issue if say, injuries or poor play take control.

Andersen started in sixty games in 2018-19, the eight most of all goaltenders in the National Hockey League. Andersen did win 36 games this season with 16 regulation losses and seven shootout or overtime losses. The Herning, Denmark native played in the least amount of games in a single season for the Leafs after two consecutive seasons with 66 games in the crease.

With that, Andersen finished the year with the worst save percentage (.917) of his three-year career in Toronto along with a 2.77 GAA and only one shutout on the campaign. In the last ten games, however, has been where Maple Leafs fans have been in a little doubt. Andersen has a 3-3-3 record with a .881 save percentage and allowed 35 goals, an average of 3.50 goals against per game. In three of those games, ‘Freddy’ allowed five or more goals and only allowed two or less goals four times in those ten games.

Andersen has had some rough games in the postseason as well, but still has a winning 22-16-0 record combined over five seasons with the Anaheim Ducks and Toronto Maple Leafs. In the Blue and White, Andersen has lost eight games, winning four. Three of those wins came against the Bruins last year, the other against Washington in the 2016-17 first round.

On five different occasions, Andersen allowed five or more goals against in the playoffs, three of which coming with the Maple Leafs – two against Boston. Andersen can be very hot too as he remains one of the better goaltenders overall in the NHL, but his consistency causes some concern for management and the fans alike. The Bruins cannot take him lightly as he can very well steal a few games at any point in the series.

In the past, Tuukka Rask has had some questionable games and has needed to be better in times as well. All goalies in the NHL must deal with having a rough outing, but need to have the adversity to bounce back the very next game and win it for the himself and more importantly, the team.

In Boston, however, if Rask fails to meet the standards that will need to bet met against Toronto, then the hope is that Halak can come in and “save the day”. While it would be preferred that Rask does not falter, it is always great to have a Plan B. There could also be the reality that Rask plays all seven games (if needed), even if he does have a few stinkers. That was the case last season, but it seems like Bruce Cassidy has higher trust in Halak than he did with Anton Khudobin last season.

The Maple Leafs are solely relying on Frederik Andersen. With the not-so-distant memories somewhere in his head, the pressure is clearly on him. He needs to be on his very best game and then some and everyone knows it. The same goes for Tuukka and Jaroslav. The two, three, or even four goaltenders in this series need to have the right frame of mind to come out victorious and get into the second round against either the Tampa Bay Lightning or Columbus Blue Jackets. Whoever is on the winning side of the handshake line, will have won because of the man in between the posts.

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How Will The Bruins Fare In Round One Of The 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs?

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

With an overall record of 46-21-9, the Boston Bruins’ 101-point season thus far puts them in a tie with the Calgary Flames for the second-best franchise in the entire National Hockey League. An unexpected feat when the season began back in October, but this group of hard-working, tenacious players have battled through injuries, losses, and setbacks to be one of the best in the league today. If you were to track the Bruins’ progress throughout the season, you can see that they are now in the top three contenders for the Stanley Cup. They weren’t always in the top three so to see them where they are at now, it’s incredible.

On Saturday, the Bruins officially clinched a berth in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 7-3 crushing of the Florida Panthers. With that said, it only further confirms that the Bruins and Maple Leafs will meet in the opening round of the playoffs for the second consecutive season. Do these two match up the same or will new history be created this time around?

Scoring

On paper, both teams have the skill to not only score a few goals but to score a lot of goals. On the Bruins, the top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak have such amazing chemistry together that it almost seems that they know the exact position of each other on the ice at all times. All three of them reached the 30-goal plateau this season, and all three of them are having some of the best seasons of their NHL careers.

Following behind them, David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk also have chemistry together – to the point where they thrive off of each other, even though they are different players. Krejci tends to slow down the game and make smart, tape-to-tape passes to his teammate to set up a slick goal. To his left, Jake DeBrusk possesses a great shot with blazing speed and aggressiveness on the puck. Their two styles blend perfectly on most nights, and it has paid off.

Although the Bruins have and continue to have issues with consistent scoring from their entire bottom-six forwards, they do have one of the best fourth-lines in the league today. So much so, that the Acciari, Kuraly, Wagner line has seen third-line minutes quite often during the year so far. The three members of that line drive on rushes, make aggressive plays on the forecheck and even lay a few hits on the opposing team as well.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Sportsnet.ca)

Statistically, the Bruins are in the top half in the league for most goals for, but if the injuries were not a factor throughout the year, that number would be a lot higher.

With the offseason addition of John Tavares, the Maple Leafs are still a threat offensively as well. They are top five in the NHL for most goals for scored and they have depth scoring throughout all four lines. Mitch Marner leads the teams in points with 25-65-90 numbers in 76 games this season.

The biggest threat may be the center position with Auston Matthews, John Tavares, and Nazem Kadri all down the middle. You have to expect that Tavares will try to be more dominant because it is his first playoff series with his new team and the playoffs are without a doubt the most important time to shine. Toronto has more depth and more consistent scoring the further down you go.

Both Boston and Toronto have the power to score five or more goals in a single 60-minute game, and it creates a true challenge for the opposing defense and goaltending. However, on paper and statistically speaking, Toronto takes this category, but it is a very close one.

Winner: Toronto Maple Leafs

Defense

The Boston Bruins have used an incredible twelve defencemen throughout the season thus far, compared to Toronto’s nine. Boston’s defense, when healthy, looks like Torey Krug, Zdeno Chara, Brandon Carlo, Charlie McAvoy, Kevan Miller, and either Matt Grzelcyk or John Moore. More often than not, however, we have not seen this blue line core 100% healthy.

Out of those seven players listed for the Bruins, only one of them has a minus rating, (Torey Krug, -3), but Krug does have a team-high 48 points on the year from the back-end, and he is always a threat on the power-play. He is arguably one of the reasons why Boston currently has the third-best man-advantage success rate in the entire league and has been within the top five for the majority of the season.

The B’s d-men possess some solid offensive talents with Krug, McAvoy, Grzelcyk, and Moore, but they also bring a solid toughness and physicality with 6-foot-9, 250-pound captain Zdeno Chara and 6-foot-2, 210-pound Kevan Miller. Between those two men alone, fear can be set among other teams in the NHL and has done so when they are together on the ice. Brandon Carlo can fit into the physical spectrum as well, but can also add some extra points when needed to.

For Toronto, the defensive side of the puck has been a weakness for some time now, mainly due to the stacked offensive core that we have previously discussed. Morgan Rielly leads the defencemen with 20-48-68 numbers in 75 games played, followed by Jake Gardiner (29 points) and Ron Hainsey (22 points).

That is great, and all, but the blueliners on the Maple Leafs have been a liability as some of the Bruins have as well. Nikita Zaitsev, Ron Hainsey, and Jake Gardiner have had their questionable moments in a game before, some of which Bruins fans will remember as well, (Gardiner’s mistake led to DeBrusk’s game-winning goal in Game 7 of the 2018 Playoffs). That was and continues to be a concern for the Blue and White.

In January, General Manager Kyle Dubas traded for a d-man Jake Muzzin from the Los Angeles Kings, a move that made Toronto’s depth on defense a lot better. Muzzin has 5-11-16 numbers in 27 contests with the Leafs, averaging just over twenty minutes on ice per game.

The Bruins allow an average of 2.48 goals-against-per-game, third in the league while the Leafs allow an average of 2.97 goals-against-per-game, 16th in the league. For that and the depth that Boston has shown with the injuries faced, the defensive side of the equation goes to Boston.

Winner: Boston Bruins

Goaltending

The last of the three categories is the most crucial of them all. When all of the offense fails, and the two defenders on the ice cannot prevent the puck from advancing, there is only one man who can make a last effort to stop the puck from crossing the goal line – the goaltender.

Last season, during the 2018 Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals, it was an intense battle between Tuukka Rask and Frederik Andersen. Although this season, times may be different. Boston has seen success with both Rask and offseason acquisition Jaroslav Halak, who could be a possible winner for the annual 7th Player Award.

Boston Head Coach Bruce Cassidy has nearly split the games started between the two netminders with Rask starting 42 games and Halak starting 37 games before Monday’s game against the Lightning. Jaroslav Halak is fifth in the league for best goals-against-average (2.31 GAA) while Rask is 7th with a 2.35 GAA. The two are the second-highest ranked duo in the league, behind only Lehner and Griess on the Islanders. Rask and Halak are both also top fifteen in save percentage.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Global News)

Frederik Andersen has played 55 games this year and is 24th in the NHL for GAA (2.72), and 13th for save percentage (.918). Garret Sparks most likely will not get any starts in the playoffs as he boasts an 8-7-0 record with a 3.16 GAA and a .907 save percentage in 15 games started.

Rask and Andersen have had issues in playoff scenarios before, but the hope for Boston is that if Rask does struggle, Halak can keep the team going, as he has done in the 2018-19 regular season. That in addition to the on-paper statistics being in favor of the Bruins, this category goes to Boston.

Winner: Boston Bruins

2018-19 Season Series

Game 1: November 10th, 2018 – Bruins def. Maple Leafs 5-1 (BOS: Pastrnak x3, Bergeron, Nordstrom – Halak 41 Saves; TOR: Tavares – Sparks 29 Saves)

Game 2: November 26th, 2018 – Maple Leafs def Bruins 4-2 (BOS: Pastrnak x2 – Halak 27 Saves; TOR: Dermott, Hyman, Leivo, Ozhiganov – Andersen 38 Saves)

Game 3: December 8th, 2018 – Bruins def Maple Leafs 6-3 (BOS: Backes, Donato, Krug, Forsbacka-Karlsson, Krejci, Heinen – Halak 29 Saves; TOR: Dermott, Johnsson, Matthews – Andersen 6 GA, 22 Saves, Sparks 4 Saves)

Game 4: January 12th, 2019 – Bruins def Maple Leafs 3-2 (BOS: Krejci, Kuraly, Pastrnak – Rask 32 Saves; TOR: Marner, Johnsson – Hutchinson 26 Saves)

In the four games against the Maple Leafs this season, the Black and Gold won three of them and lost only one game. The Bruins outscored the Leafs 16-10 within those games, including a six-goal performance on December 8th. David Pastrnak scored six goals in four games versus Toronto by himself.

Boston failed to score more than two goals in that series only one time, and it was the sole game that they lost. In that loss, Frederik Andersen stopped 38 of 40 shots against to seal the deal for Toronto.

Each and every one of those games had a type of intensity and energy that is not as present when either team plays another team. The Bruins did take the season series this year, three games to one, but the Leafs can very well perform better or worse come playoff time, and the same can be said for the B’s.

Winner: Boston Bruins

The Boston Bruins, on paper, win three of the four categories that I have listed here today. With that said, that can all essentially be thrown out the window once the puck drops to signify the start to Game One as both teams will gain a brand new intensity and momentum that the playoffs bring.

If you are planning on making a wager on this series, I would recommend a prediction of seven games, at least. Either one of them can take the series at any given time, but with the experience of the past games dating back to 2017-18, these two Original Six franchises have so many glaring similarities and yet, differences. The question is, is will those differences be enough to win four games? That is the main goal for either club.

It doesn’t stop there either. The Bruins have a tougher roster mentally, at least what has been shown this season and that will most definitely play a factor in who advances to the second round. Whether you are a Boston Bruins fan or a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, prepare for yet another nail-biting, entertaining, exciting matchup between the team we love to cheer for and the team we love to cheer against.

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Frederik Andersen vs Tuukka Rask – Game 7’s

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

Throughout the first six games of the Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals, goaltending has been the main headline across all sports outlets. From the twelve goals scored on Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen in the first two games combined, to Tuukka Rask being pulled in Game Five after allowing four goals on thirteen shots.

As the old story goes, good goaltending is required to win the Stanley Cup. That was evident in the back-to-back Stanley Cups by the Pittsburgh Penguins as much as it was evident for Tim Thomas and the Boston Bruins in the 2011 Cup run. Rarely do you hear of a playoff story where the number one goaltender on the team gets pulled in a series. Well, for both Andersen and Rask, they have been pulled from the crease and replaced with the backup tender for the remainder of that game.

However, Game Seven is a completely different hockey game altogether. The pressure of elimination with the excitement of advancement into the next round. Do or die. In a goalie’s career, a Game Seven win can boost your confidence for a long time, while a loss can haunt a goalie. Even though hockey is a team sport, the goalies do in fact take some of the blame upon themselves.

Both Tuukka Rask and Frederik Andersen have experience with losing in the seventh game of a series as well as winning. Which goaltender can put the past in the past and lead their team to a second-round matchup?

Frederik Andersen – TOR

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PHOTO CREDITS: (sportsnet.ca)

Although Andersen is known today as the starting goaltender for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Andersen started his young career with the Anaheim Ducks, where he played 125 games over the course of three seasons. However, the trouble in Anaheim was the surplus of good goalies. The Ducks management was forced to decide on whether or not to keep John Gibson or Frederik Andersen.

This dilemma eventually led to the June 2016 trade that sent Andersen to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for a 2016 1st Round Pick (Sam Steel) and a 2017 2nd Round Pick (Maxime Comtois).

Since joining the Leafs, he has yet to play in a Game Seven. During the 2016-17 season, Andersen and the Leafs were eliminated in the Game Six to the Washington Capitals. With that said, Frederik did, in fact, play in two do-or-die games with the Anaheim Ducks.

2013-14 vs Los Angeles Kings

Frederik Andersen was thrown into the Game Seven experience in his very first season in the National Hockey League. Following a six-game victory over the Dallas Stars in the first round, the Ducks were forced to battle Californian rival, the Los Angeles Kings in the second round.

The series was a back and forth one, the first two games went to the Kings, then the next three to the Ducks, until L.A won the sixth game, leading into the ever-exciting Game Seven.

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PHOTO CREDITS: ( Stephen Dunn/Getty Images North America)

After the six games ended as one or two-goal games, Andersen would allow six goals on 30 shots, losing the game 6-2 and forced to enter the offseason with a second-round loss.

Even though the loss was heartbreaking, it is the first playoff season for the young Denmark goalie, meaning there are many more years to follow to make up for the defeat.

2014-15 vs Chicago Blackhawks

The Anaheim Ducks continued to play as a dominant team during the 2014-15 regular season. The team battled to a 51-24-7 record, good for first place in the Western Conference and only four points behind the New York Rangers for the top spot in the National Hockey League.

With relative ease, the Ducks would sweep the Winnipeg Jets and knock off the Calgary Flames in five games in round one and two respectively. This would lead into a Western Conference Final against the Chicago Blackhawks, who were looking to continue the modern-day dynasty that they have built over the previous years.

The series was one of the most entertaining ones throughout that specific season. Three overtime games between the two teams including a triple overtime and a double overtime in the mix as well. While Andersen played solid throughout the series, when it came to the deciding game, Andersen allowed five goals from the stacked Hawks team, losing in the West Final Game 7, 5-3.

As per Matt Kalman, (@MattKalman on Twitter), Andersen is 0-2 in Game Seven outings, with a goals against average of 3.65 and a save percentage of 0.848%.

Tuukka Rask – BOS

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PHOTO CREDITS: (sportingnews.com)

If you play for any Original Six team, it is typical to feel criticism from the fan base. However, Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask, seems to get the most talk around him for his play in the crease. If he stands on his head one game, you’ll hear about it. If he has a bad game, you’ll hear it from the other side.

Some of the most criticism that Rask gets from time-to-time, is his struggle to come through in high-pressure situations. While in some cases that may be true, Rask does have a better record in Game Seven appearances than his goaltender counterpart.

2009-10 vs Philadelphia Flyers

For Bruins fans, this one hurt. After leading the team three games to zero in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, Boston lost four games in a row following that third game, as the Flyers would finish the ‘reverse sweep’.

First, Boston would lose in overtime, 5-4, followed by a 4-0, 2-1, and 4-3 loss in the final game. Just like Andersen, Rask lost in Game Seven for the first time in his very first playoff season that he was deemed the starter.

Rask would not get the opportunity to play in any game sevens the following year, as that would be the year that Tim Thomas led the Boston Bruins to their 2011 Stanley Cup. However, it would indeed lead into his second experience with a game seven.

2012-13 vs Toronto Maple Leafs

This seems familiar.

When talking about the 2012-13 Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals against the Toronto Maple Leafs, it sounds a lot like deja vu to the 2017-2018 playoff round one that we are talking about.

In the 2012-13 postseason, the Bruins started off against the Toronto Maple Leafs with a Game One win, by a score of 4-1. The B’s looked great in that first meeting, but the Leafs would fire back, winning Game Two, heading back to Toronto. In Toronto though, Boston would come out victorious in both meetings, winning 5-2 and 4-3 in overtime.

Things were looking great for the B’s. In a lockout season, they started off with a 3-1 series lead and Tuukka Rask had only allowed ten goals in the four games. Then, it all went south.

Boston lost the next two games, creating a Game Seven matchup in Boston. Toronto exploded for a 4-1 early in the third period and it was looking like the Maple Leafs would complete the comeback that no one thought they could pull off.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (BRIAN SNYDER / REUTERS

Nathan Horton brought some life back into the team with the second goal, followed by Milan Lucic’s tally with just under two minutes to trail in the final frame. Then, as we all know, Patrice Bergeron would rifle a shot from the point, beating James Reimer and tying the game at four a piece. Not far into the first overtime session, Bergeron would strike for the second time in the game, winning the game and series for the Boston Bruins on home ice.

Boston would follow up with series wins over the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins before falling in Game Six of the Stanley Cup Finals to the Chicago Blackhawks – the same year that Andersen lost to the Hawks in the Western Conference Finals.

Rask would get the win in the game, but all thanks to the surrounding cast, who came back from the 4-1 deficit. Rask did allow the four Toronto goals on the 28 shots he faced within that game.

2013-14 vs Montreal Canadiens

At the same time that Frederik Andersen lost in his first Game Seven, Tuukka Rask would be in a tight series with the bitter-rivals, Montreal Canadiens.

The Bruins were the team to beat that season. After a Stanley Cup Finals appearance the year prior and a Presidents Trophy during the past 82-games, the prediction from most analysts was that the Bruins would be back contending again. But, the Canadiens had other plans.

The first game of the series went to double overtime, making the series that much more entertaining from the get go. Unfortunately for Boston, they did not come out with the victory in that game. After falling 2-1 in the series, Boston would fire back and lead the series 3-2.

With two chances to eliminate Montreal, the Bruins would fall short of the Eastern Conference Finals due to a 3-1 loss in Game Seven. Tuukka Rask allowed three goals on only 18 shots against. Not all of this series can be blamed on Rask though. The Bruins only scored one goal in Game Six and Seven combined, disappointing Bruins fans everywhere who anticipated another deep playoff run.

Also according to Matt Kalman, Tuukka Rask is 1-2 in the postseason, with a goals against average of 3.63 and a save percentage of .849% in Game Sevens.

Both goaltenders are nearly identical when statistics are brought up, meaning no real statistical benefit will come about. However, both goalies have different experiences that must occasionally play back in their mind from bad and good do or die scenarios. Tonight’s game will be a goaltender battle, just like the other ones. The better goalie will most likely advance to Round Two.