Boston Bruins (1-1) at Toronto Maple Leafs (1-1)
NHL Playoff Hockey: Monday, April 15, 2019
Line and Odds: Toronto Maple Leafs -120 Over/Under: 6
Draftkings Picks TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS VS. BOSTON BRUINS
2019 has been quite the year for the Stanley Cup Playoffs thus far and we’re not even past an elimination game. Yet, there are several teams with the potential to make some serious noise come the end of round one. One of these teams are the top heavy Toronto Maple Leafs. I’m sure they’re sick of people like me referring to them as such but I will continue to do so until they prove me wrong.
They had a golden opportunity to do that in game two. Game one had me convinced that the Bruins were going to make short work of the Leafs. Historically speaking, this is not the case as the last two Leafs-Bruins series have gone the distance. Everyone remembers Toronto’s game 7 meltdown in 2013 and as for 2018, they just couldn’t keep the pucks out of their net.
They sure did a great job of that in game one as the Leafs came into Beantown and bottled the Bruins up like they were the giant blue genie. They didn’t wince when the Bruins scored first and proceeded to introduce them to a little thing called “stealing” by means of stealing their home ice advantage.
A lot of their win came thanks to the supreme goaltending of Frederick Andersen. Mitch Marner had two goals, including one on a penalty shot and for a night, the Leafs looked like the Stanley Cup threats that their delusional fan base tries to convince us they are. You had me going for a moment.
Game Two came along and all is right in the universe now. It was a throwback to the good ol’ days in the National Hockey League as the refs could do little to contain the bad blood that spilt all over the ice. The height of the controversy is surrounding Nazem Kadri’s dirty hit on Jake DeBrusk. Now, DeBrusk did hit Kadri with a dirty hit but Kadri’s suspension really hurt the Leafs last year.
It’s the act of Kadri that showcases the core problem with the Toronto Maple Leafs. They don’t appear to know how to rise above. Instead of getting back at DeBrusk by means of being patient and making sure he pays, Kadri choose the losing moments of a three goal beat-down. DeBrusk was playing pesty Hockey and I trust the blood between these two will spill over into game three.
Speaking of Game Three…
In the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the team that sets the physical tone is the one that prevails in most cases. Both the Maple Leafs and Bruins will look to set the physical tone early in game three. DeBrusk is said to have had a nasty look in his eye when he got up from the cross-check but I hope his teammates are convincing him to take his anger out on the power play and scoreboard. This is not the time to get stupid, learn from Kadri.
For the Leafs to have a chance, Andersen must produce the same magic he had in game one. I get that the Leafs were outplayed in game two but the Stanley Cup Playoffs are a stage in which the goalie must deliver sometimes. Teams have won Stanley Cups in the past because of their goaltending. Anderson has proven he can be the difference maker but it remains to be seen if he will in game three.
Another thing that must happen is that Auston Matthews needs to stop hiding against the Bruins. Including games one and two from this series, Matthews has just one goal and one assist in nine playoff games against Boston. Mitch Marner stepped up in game one so I’ll be watching to see if Matthews will be doing the same in game three. These next two games showcase an excellent opportunity for the “Generational Prospect”.
FanDuel Picks BOSTON BRUINS VS. TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
The bottom line is if the Bruins can impose their will on the Leafs and early, they’ll win both games three and four. Since the focus here is solely on game three, I’ll stick to my guns on this one. I feel the momentum is on the side of the Bruins as the Leafs had a chance to head home with a 2-0 series and lead and they folded like my beer pong table.
If the Leafs can play the way they did in game one, they’ll be prevailing tonight but considering how much the abscense of Nazem Kadri hurt them last playoff, I have a feeling history will repeat itself. That means that Boston should be able to win game three tonight but I’ve (well, all of us) been wrong so far. Tonight though, I’m pretty confident the Bruins will prevail, if only thanks to an empty net.
Bruins 4 Maple Leafs 2