Congrats to the Toronto Maple Leafs on their 4-3 overtime win Saturday night in Toronto and getting some semblance of revenge on the Boston Bruins after another playoff loss to their Atlantic Division and Original 6 rival last spring. That being said, even after a thrilling overtime win over the Bruins at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto Saturday, it remains crystal clear that the Bruins are a better team than the Leafs. More importantly, the Bruins remain a better playoff team.
The Maple Leafs (5-3-1, 11 points) may have pulled within one point of the Bruins (5-1-2, 12 points) in the standings thanks to Mitch Marner’s overtime winner 3:54 into the extra frame, but they were utterly outplayed for the final two periods of play. The free-wheeling Leafs were on full display and while they came through with some big goals, they don’t even sniff overtime if not for the play of goalie Frederik Andersen who made 42 saves. The Bruins dictated play from late in the first period through overtime and won the majority of battles in front of the net all night.
The Bruins deserved a better fate and two points in this one, but if this game is any indication, if these teams meet again in the postseason, their playoff fate will be the same as it’s been the last three times the Bruins and Leafs have met when it counts. Way too early prediction: Bruins in 6.
Here’s some more musings from the Bruins second straight loss in extra time:
DO NOT Break Up Top Line!
There continues to be too much whining from some media covering the Bruins and too many fans regarding the Bruins scoring depth. Here’s a newsflash: Through their first eight games, the Bruins have lost once in regulation. They’re clearly a Stanley Cup contender again and have shown no signs of the dreaded Stanley Cup Final hangover. By far, the main reason for this early success has been the play of the top line of Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak, who have easily lived up to their nickname, ‘The Perfection Line’.
The Bruins top trio had four points Saturday and connected on the game-tying goal for the Bruins with just 4:26 left in regulation, when Marchand fed Pastrnak for the one-timer that the winger buried for his ninth goal of the season, sending the game into overtime. Through the first eight games, the top line has scored 15 of 22 goals (68.2%), and has factored in the scoring in every game thus far. So why is that a bad thing?
There’s no doubt that the Bruins need to get more secondary scoring – and as mentioned below – they finally got that on Saturday when winger Jake DeBrusk finally found the twine after failing to score in the first seven games. The season has just begun and scorers like DeBrusk will find their groove eventually and if and when David Krejci – who missed his third game of the season – gets healthy, the depth will shine through. Yes, the Bruins could definitely use a consistent scoring winger on the right side of DeBrusk and Krejci, but why break up the hottest line in the NHL to solve that problem? How about instead of that, general manager Don Sweeney utilizes his wealth of prospects and acquires that player via a trade soon, instead of waiting until the trade deadline?
DeBrusk Gets Monkey Off His Back – After failing to light the lamp in the first seven games of the season, DeBrusk finally got the monkey off his back when he beat Andersen with a goal scorer’s goal at 19:39 of the opening frame. His celly after was one of relief as the winger the Bruins are hoping can push the 30-goal plateau, after amassing 27 lamplighters last season. The 23-year-old winger – who is in a contract year – has preached consistency when it comes to improving his game and clearly that is still an issue as the goal-scoring drought to start the season showed. If he can start to go to the net more like he did in Toronto Saturday though, that consistency will come. DeBrusk also needs to deal better with adversity and not let frustration wear him down.
Best Second Period Of Season – Have the Bruins cured their second period blues? Boston outscored Toronto 15-3 in the second period and despite not scoring a goal in the period, the Bruins played a responsible, two-way game and absolutely suffocated the potent Leafs offense. There were no mental lapses and there was a momentum build instead of a letdown as the game went deeper. That’s a great sign going forward.
Krejci, Nordstrom Out, Backes In – As mentioned above, Krejci (upper body) missed his second straight game but the Bruins were also without forward Joakim Nordstrom (foot) who missed his fourth game of the season. With Nordstrom out, Backes drew back into the lineup after being a healthy scratch in the last three games. Backes was a minus 2 in 11 shifts and 6:42 on ice. Here’s what the lineup looked like Saturday night:
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk – Charlie Coyle – Karson Kuhlman
Danton Heinen – Par Lindholm – Brett Ritchie
Chris Wagner – Sean Kuraly – David Backes
Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk – Connor Clifton