Found May 01, 2013 on
Toronto Maple Leafs
The playoffs are upon us and the attention that the Bruins have gotten for backpedalling into the playoffs now shifts to their first round playoff matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Bruins finished the season 3-5-2 in their last 10 and blew numerous attempts to wrap up the Northeast Division as the Canadiens also stumbled down the stretch. The Bruins play of late, and their first round defeat last season, has left Bruins fans worried and skeptical. The Bruins will face off against Northeast rival Toronto. The Leafs join the second season for the first time in nine years and with a young and inexperienced core, they are one of the greatest unknowns in these playoffs. Will the big stage be too big for them or will they run with the flame?
Offense is one of the more equal categories between the two teams in terms of goal production. The Bruins scored 131 goals (2.73 GPG) in their 48 games, while the Leafs scored 145 times (3.0 GPG). The Bruins top scorer was Brad Marchand (18-18-36), while old friend Phil Kessel led the Leafs with 20 goals and 32 assists. The Bruins defense has typically contained Phil Kessel and the Leafs pretty well. The Bruins have won nine of the last 10 games in large part because they’ve held Phil Kessel in check. In fact, Kessel has zero 5-on-5 goals in 22 career games against the Bruins. Unlike previous years, the Leafs are not just a one-line team anymore. They mix speed and talent throughout their first three lines and will need to use that speed to get past the Bruins staunch defense. The Bruins will need to have their top two lines step up in this series if they want to advance. The Bruins scorers have long been inconsistent and with goals at a premium in the playoffs, they need their stars to rise to the occasion.
Players to watch: Nazem Kadri, James van Riemsdyk, Nathan Horton, David Krejci
The Bruins have long been identified by their defense, particularly their 5-on-5 defense. The Bruins have been among the best in the league in goals allowed since Claude Julien got to town but this year had a different feel. The Bruins were third in the league in GAA, yielding just 2.18 goals per game. The Leafs found themselves in the middle of the pack, giving up 2.64 goals per game. For the Bruins, the numbers are there but the the major concern has been defensive breakdowns and the inability to hold leads that was once a given. Toronto was 7th in the league in third period goals with 47. They were also in the top 1/3rd of the league in 3rd period goals against with 51. The Bruins ranked in the middle of the pack in both categories. The Bruins do benefit from having the same core defensemen for a few years now and also benefit from the system in which they play. The Toronto defense is not very notable, they’re on the bigger side but not overly intimidating.
Players to watch: Dennis Seidenberg, Cody Franson
Tuukka Rask should be a Vezina finalist this year if you look at his numbers. Rask compiled a 19-10-5 record with a .929 SV and a 2.00 GAA and 5 SO. All of those numbers are in the top five for goaltenders. James Reimer was 19-8-5 with a .924 SV and a 2.64 GAA and 4 SO. Neither have a playoff pedigree. Rask’s last action in the playoffs was in 2009 when the Bruins blew a 3-0 series lead to the Flyers. James Reimer hasn’t played in the playoffs since before he was in the AHL. Rask is certainly the more polished goaltender but don’t undersell Reimer, he’s a plus goalie who has the ability to keep the Leafs close even if their defense has a bad night.
Even in a year in which they won the Cup, the Bruins got by without much help from their power-play thanks to an amazing penalty-kill that made opposing power-plays look nearly as inept as their own. The Bruins PK seemed to be poised to do the same as they constantly ranked towards the top of the league in PK percentage but the Bruins PK began to look human down the stretch and finished at 87% when they had been over 90% for most of the season. The Leafs finished 14th in the league in PP% at 19% but have the talent to be much more impactful in a series. The Bruins power-play will be lucky to get multiple power-play goals in the series after finishing 25th in the league in power-play efficiency. Toronto drew 166 power-plays, while Boston drew a league worst 122 power-plays. A major part of the series will be penalty calls and power-play efficiency. The Leafs will have to convert on key power-plays to win the series and the Bruins will hope to keep if 5-on-5 for their best shot.
Despite not winning the division the Bruins got what should be a favorable matchup. The Bruins have beaten the Leafs in nine of the last 10 matchups and seem to hold a mental edge over Phil Kessel in particular who just can’t solve the Bruins. The playoffs are often dictated by goaltending and typically low-scoring contests. The Bruins get checkmarks in those categories so they should have an advantage. The Bruins will have to shake off the poor play from April and turn the page, and I think the normalized schedule and intensity of the playoffs will benefit them. Bruins in 6.
BEST OF MAXIM
Phil Kessel made headlines Monday, quite frankly, by not saying anything. The Maple Leafs forward dodged the large pack of hockey media following Toronto practice, and that caused quite a stir.
The Leafs were back at practice Tuesday, and this time around, it was Kessel making news by talking — although not really saying much. The soft-spoken Kessel was his typical reserved self...
from Christopher L. Gasper of the Boston Globe,
Phil Kessel is a man of few words and, when it comes to facing his former team, a man of even fewer goals.
Give Kessel credit. The former Bruin spoke postgame on a night when his silence on the ice spoke volumes about his reputation as a faux franchise forward. Turned into white noise on skates, Kessel could only watch as the...
BOSTON — Phil Kessel was on the ice for 13:51 in Game 1 against the Bruins on Wednesday night, but we only know that because it’s what the statsheet tells us, as well as the fact that No. 81 in white was booed and heckled every time he touched the puck.
The Maple Leafs forward was pretty much invisible in Game 1, a 4-1 loss to the Bruins at TD Garden. Admittedly, Kessel did make...
The Bruins-Maple Leafs first-round playoff series is a matchup filled with players, coaches and a pair of organizations under immense pressure for a multitude of reasons. But it’s tough to argue that anyone will feel the weight of the world on their shoulders more than Leafs forward Phil Kessel.
The 25-year-old (he’s really only 25?) is a polarizing figure, and this series will...
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
Phil Kessel has managed the impossible — he’s pulled a disappearing act before the playoff series begins against the Boston Bruins.
And in doing so, refusing to fulfil his contractual obligations and meet with the media, he wound up embarrassing team management in the process.
“That’s the first I’ve heard of it,” said...
“Thank you, Kessel” is a popular refrain around Boston any time the B’s and Maple Leafs square off, and that won’t change as the two face off in the playoffs.
However, a more discerning fan will note that Boston and Toronto are linked by more than just the trade that sent Phil Kessel north in exchange for draft picks that turned into Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton. Bruins...
The media spotlight may not bother most of the players, coaches and management of the Toronto Maple Leafs, but for Phil Kessel, it is as comfortable as the proverbial ant feels underneath the magnifying glass.
Kessel is the Leafs best player, with four 30+ goal seasons and scoring in the top 10 of the NHL for the second year in a row, but those gaudy offensive numbers have not...
Toronto Maple Leafs forward #81 Phil Kessel will have his hands full against his former club and Boston Bruins defenseman #33 Zdeno Chara in this series
After failing to win the Northeast Division for the first time in 5 seasons, the Boston Bruins fell to the 4th spot in the Eastern Conference standings. They still get home ice advantage, but instead of facing the New York Islanders...
Phil Kessel is a focal point today of a Boston-Toronto rivalry that spans all four major sports.
The city of Toronto comes to Boston tonight in more ways than one. The big focus is the Maple Leafs’ arrival to start their NHL playoff series with the Bruins. And the reeling Blue Jays are in Fenway to start a three-game series with the scorching hot Red Sox. These coming few days...
There’s no way around it; the Bruins did not play their best hockey down the stretch.
Playing a lockout-shortened schedule that was condensed even further due to multiple postponements, Boston went 2-7 over its last nine games and lost the Northeast Division title — and No. 2 seed that comes with it — on the final day of the regular season. Dropping to the No. 4 seed in the...
8 a.m. ET: The Bruins were simply not good for the last month and a half of the regular season. Luckily for them, however, the regular season is over and the slate is wiped clean once the playoffs begin. The playoffs begin for the B’s on Wednesday night in Boston.
The Bruins host the Maple Leafs on Wednesday night in the first of a seven-game series with the Toronto Maple Leafs...
from Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun,
If you’re going to win in the playoffs, your best players have to be your best players.
It doesn’t get much simpler than that.
But none of Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul, Nazem Kadri, Dion Phaneuf nor James Reimer were good on Wednesday night in the Maple Leafs’ first Stanley Cup playoff game in nine years.
Like the majority...
Tyler Seguin during a game against the Buffalo Sabres during the 2010-11 season (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Boston 28-14-6 vs. Toronto 26-17-5
For the first time in nine seasons, the Toronto Maple Leafs are in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That’s right, last time the Maple Leafs made the Stanley Cup Playoffs was during the 2003-04 season.
So, starting tonight, the Leafs...
The Bruins looked like world-beaters in Game 1 of their first-round series against the Maple Leafs. Now, they must prove that it wasn’t a one-time performance.
After arguably their most complete game of the season, Boston holds a 1-0 lead over Toronto in a best-of-seven series. Despite how dominant the Bruins looked in that first game, however, it only counts on the scoreboard...