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Round 2
Round 3
Stanley Cup Final
POSTED ON Sunday, 05.12.2013 / 12:45 PM

By Mike Brophy -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Bruins-Maple Leafs series blog

Bruins, Leafs finding it hard to maintain momentum

TORONTO -- Momentum can be a great thing for a hockey team this time of year. That is, if you get it and can maintain it.

Last season the Los Angeles Kings barely made the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but got on a roll in the postseason and rode a wave all the way to their first championship.

Thus far in the first-round Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins, neither team has been able to carry momentum from one game into the next. The Bruins won the series opener, but then lost Game 2 at home. The Maple Leafs, in their first playoff appearance in nine years, received huge support from their adoring fans, but were unable to translate that into victory at home, dropping both Games 3 and 4.

Then, with the possibility of concluding the series in five games, the Bruins lost a second straight home game and here we are with Game 6 in Toronto on Sunday night (7:30 p.m., NBCSN, CBC, RDS).


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POSTED ON Saturday, 05.11.2013 / 2:13 PM

By Mike Brophy -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Bruins-Maple Leafs series blog

Maple Leafs staying on the road at home

TORONTO -- Is it really Home, Sweet Home?

Well, so far the Toronto Maple Leafs have played two home games in the playoffs -- their first two since 2004 -- and have yet to win. Conversely, the Maple Leafs are 2-1 on the road in this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs.

So the Maple Leafs are treating Game 6 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Boston Bruins on Sunday (7 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS) like a road game.

"We have offered our players the opportunity to stay in the hotel the night before and the afternoon of games," Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. "We think that's something that has been a choice, but as for Sunday afternoon, it will not be an option. We will check into a hotel."

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POSTED ON Saturday, 05.11.2013 / 2:09 PM

By Mike Brophy -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Bruins-Maple Leafs series blog

Reimer's heroics big part of Maple Leafs' win

TORONTO -- Two nights earlier, at the most critical time in the game, Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer let a shot slip past him that looked quite stoppable.

It was in overtime and it meant his team lost the game and fell into a 3-1 series deficit against the Boston Bruins in their best-of-7 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series. Much of the focus after the game was on Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf, who had pinched on the play, allowing the Bruins to break away on an odd-man rush. Had Reimer made the save, all would have been well and Phaneuf's indiscretion would have been forgotten.

Fast forward to Friday, and again at a critical time -- this time in a scoreless game -- Reimer produced a game-saving stop, robbing Boston's Patrice Bergeron. The Bruins center cut in front of the net, causing Reimer to do the splits. With his leg stretched to the maximum, Reimer stopped the puck with the toe of his skate.

For Reimer, the spectacular save was all in a day's work.

"Honestly, it's one of those saves that you don't plan," Reimer said. "It just kind of happens. Obviously it's probably mostly just luck. He had a little bit of room on the side, but it went off my toe. It's just a lucky save and hopefully there's a few more of those left."

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POSTED ON Saturday, 05.11.2013 / 2:04 PM

By Mike Brophy -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Bruins-Maple Leafs series blog

MacArthur making the most of his opportunities

TORONTO -- Veteran Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Clarke MacArthur is learning about the highs and lows of participating in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Having never been in the playoffs before in his seven-season career, MacArthur suffered the indignity of being a healthy scratch in Games 2 and 3 of Toronto's best-of-7 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Boston Bruins, but now has goals in back-to-back games as the Maple Leafs won 2-1 Friday in Boston to remain alive.

Game 6 is Sunday in Toronto (7:30 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS).

"I just wanted to stay ready in practice," MacArthur said. "You never know when you're going to get the chance to play again. It was nice to get back in and help the team."

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POSTED ON Thursday, 05.09.2013 / 1:40 PM

By Mike Brophy -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Bruins-Maple Leafs series blog

Maple Leafs had their chances in Game 4 overtime

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs had more than their share of scoring chances in overtime in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series with the Boston Bruins before David Krejci ended the game with his third goal of the night.

On one play, the player the Maple Leafs count on most for goals -- right wing Phil Kessel -- raced into the Boston zone on the right side and had a step on defender Zdeno Chara. Kessel easily could have continued hard to the net and either created his own scoring chance or possibly drawn a penalty, but instead he elected to hit the brakes and fire a snap shot that was easily stopped by Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.

Would Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle have liked to have seen Kessel drive hard to the net with the puck?

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POSTED ON Thursday, 05.09.2013 / 11:54 AM

By Mike Brophy -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Bruins-Maple Leafs series blog

Fraser texts teammates, recovering after surgery

TORONTO -- A slap shot to the head followed by surgery wasn't enough to keep Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Mark Fraser from texting his teammates.

The hard-nosed blueliner was drilled in the head by a shot from Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic at 7:49 of the third period of Game 4 of Toronto's opening round Stanley Cup Playoff series and immediately departed for the dressing room then the hospital, leaving a pool of blood behind on the ice.

"Mark Fraser is resting at home and he had surgery last night to repair a fracture between the eyes and cranial area," coach Randy Carlyle said Thursday morning at the team's practice facility. "I don't know if you'd call it a fractured skull; I think that's a little too severe. He was texting and in conversation with his teammates this morning before 8 a.m. He's now back on the road to recovery."

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 05.08.2013 / 12:15 PM

By Mike Brophy -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Bruins-Maple Leafs series blog

Maple Leafs' trio using AHL experience for help

TORONTO -- A year ago they were immersed in the American Hockey League playoffs with the Toronto Marlies, well on their way to the Calder Cup final.

Although the Marlies were swept in the final by the Norfolk Admirals, forwards Nazem Kadri and Matt Frattin, along with defenseman Jake Gardiner, all gained valuable playoff experience. Now they are three players the Toronto Maple Leafs hope can help catapult them into the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Maple Leafs trail the Boston Bruins 2-1 in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series, with Game 4 here Wednesday (7 p.m. ET, CNBC, CBC, RDS).

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 05.07.2013 / 2:36 PM

By Mike Brophy -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Bruins-Maple Leafs series blog

Thornton prepared to do whatever it takes in playoffs

TORONTO -- If you weren't paying close attention, you might have thought it was Jaromir Jagr carrying the puck into the Toronto Maple Leafs' zone and driving hard to the net in search of a goal.

It wasn't. Nope, it was Boston Bruins fourth-line right wing Shawn Thornton, a player who normally makes his exclamation point with his fists. The right-shooting Oshawa native who grew up a stone's throw away from Toronto, accepted a pass at the Maple Leafs blue line, cruised in along the left boards and made a beeline for the net, causing goaltender James Reimer to make a splits save.

Didn't know you had it in you, Shawn.

"You act surprised," Thornton said. "You don't have the NHL Network? You didn't see my penalty shot goal last year?"


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POSTED ON Tuesday, 05.07.2013 / 2:30 PM

By Mike Brophy -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Bruins-Maple Leafs series blog

Kessel has Toronto fans singing his praise

TORONTO -- Phil Kessel is used to hearing chants of, "Thank you, Kessel! … Thank you, Kessel!"

But that's when his Toronto Maple Leafs are playing the Boston Bruins at TD Garden in Boston, where he got his start in the NHL. Kessel joined Toronto in a trade Sept. 18, 2009, and the Bruins went on to win the Stanley Cup less than two years later. Bruins fans love to jeer the Maple Leafs' top goal-scoring threat.

So it was with pure delight that Kessel heard the same chant, "Thank you, Kessel! … Thank you, Kessel!" from the rabid fans in Toronto during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on Monday. It was their way of showing appreciation for his offensive exploits.

"The fans here have always been great to me," Kessel said. "I love playing in this city. We have great fans and they supported us well Monday night."

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 05.07.2013 / 2:24 PM

By Mike Brophy -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Bruins-Maple Leafs series blog

Maple Leafs experienced rough night in faceoff circle

TORONTO -- When it comes to winning faceoffs in the NHL, Toronto Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle insists, "If you aren't cheating, you aren't trying."

That being the case, Toronto's No. 1 center, Tyler Bozak, must have been trying really, really hard Monday night in the Maple Leafs' 5-2 loss to the Boston Bruins at Air Canada Centre. Bozak, who is the Maple Leafs' best faceoff man, was repeatedly kicked out of the circle by linesmen Shane Heyer and Don Henderson in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

At the end of the night Bozak won 12 of his 29 faceoffs, and the Bruins as a team won 60 percent of the draws.

"It's tough in the game, but it's over now," Bozak said. "Both sides were cheating quite a bit in the circle, and I was getting caught a lot more than they were. There's nothing you can do about it now."

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I've been getting frustrated lately, and the only thing keeping me sane was the team winning and other people stepping up and scoring. Then you just kind of let it go and realize you can end the series with one shot, that frustration goes away for a brief moment, and that's what happened.

— Montreal forward Max Pacioretty after scoring the series-winner in Game 4 -- his first career playoff goal -- to eliminate the Lightning and send the Canadiens into the second round