The Toronto Maple Leafs made a statement in Game 1 by going into TD Garden and not being intimidated by the Boston Bruins. After all of the talk about how bad their defence is, which is largely overblown, the Leafs had a brilliant defensive plan against the Bruins in Game 2. Boston scored early in the 1st and took a 1-goal lead before the Leafs gained control.
That was before the Leafs buckled down and didn’t allow another goal. They went on to record 4 unanswered goals for a 4-1 victory out of the gate in Game 1. Toronto made the Bruins look old and slow. Zdeno Chara was flat footed all game, as he struggled to keep up with the speed of the Maple Leafs. Chara was more of a liability than a contributor.
Chara wasn’t the only player who was caught off guard by the Leafs. Brad Marchand was invisible, much in the same way that the Islanders are taking Crosby out of their series, thus far anyway. The Islanders did it twice in Game 1 and 2. Crosby was bottled up again in the second matchup, as he notched just one shot in net in a game where the Penguins needed him to excel. The Isles neutralized the Penguins’ best talent twice in a row, and we’ll see on Saturday if the Maple Leafs can hold the Bruins in check as well.
The most pressure in this series is squarely on Mike Babcock. I don’t think there is anyone else who is going to face more criticism than Babcock if the Leafs fail here. After seeing how bad the defence was without Jake Gardiner, there is no blame that should be directed at him. Ownership didn’t give him huge stacks to lose to the Bruins in consecutive years. He had his team ready to play in Game 1, but it takes four games to win a series. Head below for our free Maple Leafs vs. Bruins pick.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Boston Bruins Game 2 Pick
The momentum completed changed in Game 1 when Mitch Marner was awarded a penalty shot shorthanded. Marner was dragged down to prevent him from going in free, but he made no doubt about it when it was just him against Rask. The air was sucked out of the building following that sequence.
Frederik Anderson, who struggled to play well down the stretch came up big with 37 saves. The Bruins outshot the Leafs by 5 shots, but Toronto led the only category that matters. Toronto had a conversion rate of 12.2%, while the Bruins were just at 2.63% with the lone goal.
Boston won the regular season series with three wins to only one for the Leafs. The Bruins won both of their games at home by scores of 5-1 and 6-3. That didn’t help when they were looking at a score of 4-1 on Thursday night, though. Following up a win with another win hasn’t necessarily been a specialty of the Maple Leafs recently.
They have gone 0-6 in their last six games when they were coming off a win in the previous outing. Also note that they’ve gone 0-7 in the next game after their opponent scored less than 2 goals. I think Marchand and company have a little too much pride to play like the Lightning have at home in their first two games of the playoffs.
This is likely going to be a closer game than the first, but the Bruins should ultimately be the team that comes out on top. While people are already writing the Bruins off after their first effort, they likely come out hard from the opening puck drop. Consider selecting the Bruins on Saturday to get back on track in Game 2 at TD Garden.