April 20, 2018

First round of Playoffs for the Leafs

13 April 2018, 12:13 | Lena Norman

2018 NHL Playoffs | Toronto Maple Leafs vs Boston Bruins Series Preview & Pick

Nov 10 2017 Toronto Ontario CAN Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron prepares to face-off against Toronto Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri at Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs beat the Bruins 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit Tom Szczerbow

In addition to dominating the Leafs in every area of the game, the Boston Bruins scored two power-play goals in two opportunities and squelched the Leafs power-play three out of three times to earn a 5-1 win Thursday night. But as he described to reporters after the game, Marchand was just enjoying himself.

It's important not to get carried away about a single game, but the single game was about as impressive as it gets for the Bruins' top line. Andreas Johnsson and Dominic Moore took regular turns in drills and are available while it appeared Matt Martin and Josh Leivo will continue watching games from the press box. Now the Leafs are faced with the challenge of winning Game 2 without a key centreman, and with the knowledge the Bruins owned the Leafs' best line along the way.

On an odd-man rush, Torey Krug set up Brad Marchand with a lovely area pass that started with the defenseman passing the puck through the legs of Maple Leafs' defender Roman Polak.

Power-play opportunities_Toronto 0 of 3; Boston 3 of 6. At the end of the day, that's the lineup we chose.

Toronto's concerns only grew from there after Nazem Kadri received a boarding major for jumping at a prone Tommy Wingels midway through the third period.

"They were good", said Babcock. "That just pumps me up and I'm sure I speak for a lot of other guys". The game calmed down at the end of the first, the start of the second.

The Bruins, led by the Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak line as expected, came out strong and hard.

"He's out [Thursday]", said Cassidy. He played too far over the line, while Marchand walked up the line and gave it a kiss. Mostly, the Leafs looked like accountants who had wandered into a biker bar at full brawl.

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It meant 99 goals during the regular season.

With the Bruins taking Game 1, eyes will be on Saturday night when the two teams play again. Marchand and Bergeron put on a clinic in playoff hockey - winning every fight for the puck and keeping it in the Leafs zone nearly all of the time. The Leafs did not have even one shot on goal during five-on-five play and were fortunate to be down only one goal. The Bruins finally showed a crack in that regard when a bad clearing attempt wound up on Leaf defenceman Jake Gardiner's stick with about six minutes to go.

But as the Leafs successfully weathered a storm that at one point saw them out-attempted 12-to-1 in shot attempts, a rare misplay from Zdeno Chara in the attacking zone gave Zach Hyman the inch of breathing room the Maple Leafs needed. The Leafs visibly shook off the pianos on their backs and started controlling the puck a little more.

The Bruins never looked back and became one of the conference's best teams coming within two points of finishing first in the Eastern Conference. You think you're a special team?

The Leafs were beaten 5-1 in Game 1 and they were significantly outplayed, outworked, outthought, and out-disciplined by the Bruins and that may be being kind.

Two-goal leads can be among the most risky in the game, but when you put your team short-handed so much, it is all for naught.

Marchand didn't take a penalty in Game 1. It could have been the start of something unsafe for the Bruins, too, had there been more than three minutes remaining in the period.

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