Here are the Talking Points from the Boston Bruins 5-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Scotiabank Centre on Friday night.
GOLD STAR: William Nylander led the way for the Maple Leafs on a night when Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner both sat out the regular season finale, and scored a pair of goals in the victory for Toronto. Nylander finished with the two goals and a plus-2 rating in 19:22 of ice time to go along with four shots on net, six shot attempts overall and three takeaways in a truly strong all-around game with so many key players missing on both sides. Certainly Mark Giordano is worth recognition as well for his plus-3 rating and assist in a strong performance on Toronto’s back end, but Nylander was the guy that filled the starring role for Toronto. Nylander finished with a very strong 34 goals for the Maple Leafs and goes into the postseason with some momentum on his side.
BLACK EYE: Tough night for the kids as Jack Studnicka and Marc McLaughlin combined for a minus-6 rating and did not look good against Toronto’s offensive skill and speed. After an impressive start to his career with the Boston Bruins, McLaughlin in particular has scuffled a little bit and looked like a young pro that might not be ready for the playoff pressure cooker. That’s where a veteran player like Chris Wagner comes into play with his experience and poise during the high-stakes playoffs, and where youngsters like Studnicka and McLaughlin won’t have a real chance at consistently cracking the NHL playoff roster until they can handle the elevated play.
TURNING POINT: The Boston Bruins looked like they were in good shape after Trent Frederic scored just 70 seconds into the game, but Toronto exploded for offense early and often while building up a 3-1 lead at the end of the first intermission. That was enough for the Bruns, who scored another goal later in the game on a sweet, hard-working Jake DeBrusk power play strike to keep it as close as it would get. That’s right, the Boston Bruins have scored power play goals in two straight games, but that momentary special teams burst didn’t stop the Maple Leafs from skating all over the Bruins with Bergeron and Marchand out of the lineup. The truth is the game was over once the Bruins went down by a couple goals with some of their best offensive players missing.
HONORABLE MENTION: Chris Wagner was arguably the best player on the ice for the Boston Bruins, and certainly he was one of Boston’s best players in his first taste of NHL action this season after spending the year in the minors. The call-up to the Bruins for Wagner as regulars like Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, well-deserved with his 400 career goals in Boston, got the night off in Boston was a perfect scenario for the Walpole native. It was pretty clear that Wagner was looking to open eyes and remind the Boston Bruins decision-makers about what he brings to the table, and he did just that with two shots on net and a whopping 11 hits in 15:24 of action. He finished checks and he was hustling all over the ice, doing things that could help if called on in an energy role during the postseason. That he did that after posting 15 goals and 27 points for the Providence Bruins while being a good soldier and a veteran leader in a clearly difficult situation speaks volumes about Wagner and his professionalism. The bottom line is that Wagner did everything that he needed to do on Friday night to again become a possible black ace option for the Bruins moving forward.
BY THE NUMBERS: 25 – the number of goals this season for Jake DeBrusk in a big bounce-back season after scoring just 5 goals for the B’s last year.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “Once you’re in the playoffs, seedings don’t matter. Anything can happen.” –Charlie Coyle, on if the Boston Bruins view themselves as underdogs in the first round series against the Carolina Hurricanes.