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Bruins vs Maple Leafs

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Bruins vs Maple Leafs - 2013 SCP Conference Quarterfinals

Maple Leafs in playoffs has Toronto flying high

Mike Brophy - Correspondent

TORONTO -- Nick Trantos remembers the parade like it took place yesterday.

Trantos and a school chum cut class, hopped on a streetcar and headed to Bay Street to see their heroes: the Stanley Cup champion Toronto Maple Leafs. The year was 1967 and Trantos was 9 years old.

"I wasn't going to miss it for anything," said Trantos, 55. "I was not going to be denied. I remember the convertibles carrying the players passing us, and the one I most remember, other than the one George Armstrong was riding in with the Stanley Cup, was the car carrying Dave Keon. He was my hero and he won the Conn Smythe Trophy that year. I was a few inches from touching him and it was the biggest thrill. He gave me a glance and I carried that with me for years."

Trantos is not alone. Not by a long shot.

Bruins vs. Maple Leafs series preview Staff


  Seed: 428-14-662 Pts.

Maple Leafs

  Seed: 526-17-555 Pts.

The Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs have been exchanging shots, goals and big hits since the start of the NHL. This week, they'll be at it again.

The Bruins' loss Sunday dropped them to fourth in the Eastern Conference, where they'll open a Stanley CUp Playoff series against their Original Six rival, the fifth-seeded Maple Leafs. It's the 14th time they're facing off in the postseason, the first time since 1974.

The teams were separated by five points in the standings -- coincidentally, the same number of goals that separated them in four meetings this season.

The Bruins won three of the four regular-season games, but two wins were by one goal, with one coming in a shootout. Boston swept the two games at TD Garden: a 1-0 win Feb. 2 and the shootout win March 25. The Bruins' other victory, March 7 at home, was a one-goal game until an empty-net goal with 15 seconds remaining.

Five Questions: Rask's experience biggest concern

Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor

The Boston Bruins are less than two years removed from their Stanley Cup championship, clinched with a comeback for the ages against the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup Final.

Amazingly, much of the core from that championship remains in place as the Bruins advance to the Stanley Cup Playoffs again, sitting in the top half of the Eastern Conference bracket.

Boston coach Claude Julien still has Zdeno Chara to play on the blue line for nearly half a game, and still has a top six -- anchored by Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Tyler Seguin -- which scores by committee.

Even with all that continuity from the 2011 championship team, the Bruins have a number of questions to answer as they begin their quest for a second Stanley Cup in three seasons.

X-Factor: Addition of Jagr could be game-changer

Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor

Although Jaromir Jagr wasn't the Boston Bruins' first choice at the NHL Trade Deadline -- anyone remember Jarome Iginla before he opted for Pittsburgh? -- he may have been the best choice general manager Peter Chiarelli could have made with his team's season hanging in the balance.

Determined to find some scoring for his at times anemic offense, Chiarelli traded a conditional draft pick and a pair of middling prospects for Jagr, who is No. 10 on the NHL's list of all-time scorers.

Jagr, 41, provides Boston with everything it needed to be better, and he cost nothing from its current roster. He is a bona fide top-six forward who likely will play a third-line role and, in the process, even out the Bruins forward groupings. He is a natural scorer on a team that often has trouble scoring. And he is a power-play specialist on a team that has had an anemic man-advantage attack all season.

"That's what you're going to need going into the playoffs, to be able to have all lines score goals," Jagr said. "That way other teams can't just shut down one line, there are other lines that can score goals, and I think that's pretty important to have that going into the playoffs."

Why the Bruins will win the Stanley Cup

Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor

The Boston Bruins will win the Stanley Cup because they have done it so recently.

Tuukka Rask
Goalie - BOS
RECORD: 19-10-5
GAA: 2.00 | SVP: 0.929
This team is less than 24 months removed from hockey's ultimate accomplishment and still possesses a huge part of the core that delivered Boston its first hockey championship in nearly 40 years. In fact, Boston regularly uses 16 of the 20 skaters who dressed in the 2011 run.

In goal, Tuukka Rask is the starter, replacing Tim Thomas. That is not as big a downgrade as it may sound, however. Rask has a pretty good season in his pocket heading into the playoffs. His name will be thrown into the Vezina Trophy conversation. He played 34 games this season, yet managed five shutouts, which matched his career high and the combined total from his previous two seasons.

Plus, this is a team built for the way hockey is played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Bruins are deep down the middle with a one-two punch at center featuring Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. On the blue line, the club's top-four -- Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference and Johnny Boychuk -- are as talented as any quartet in the tournament.

X-Factor: Leafs will rely on Reimer to anchor defense

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

The Toronto Maple Leafs can score goals in bunches. It's one of their best traits, arguably the main reason they were good enough to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2004.

The Maple Leafs' issue is instead in the defensive zone, with coverage, reads and breakdowns that lead to shots against and, ultimately, quality chances against that make the play of goalie James Reimer all the more important.

Reimer will have to be the Maple Leafs' best defender if the team is going to advance to the second round. He'll probably have to be better than he was at any point during the regular season because his margin for error will be slimmer. Toronto can't expect to continue to score more than three goals every game at a time when defenses play tighter and scoring historically goes down.

Nobody is quite sure how Reimer will handle the pressure of having to be great, if it will become a burden because he has never been a part of the NHL's playoff environment. He hasn't played in any kind of playoff game since he was an ECHL goalie for the South Carolina Stingrays in 2009, but this spring he's the player who will either help make or completely break the chances of the Maple Leafs.

Why the Maple Leafs will win the Stanley Cup

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Fans in Toronto haven't had reason to even think about the Stanley Cup for nine years. No reason to hope, no reason to dream that their Toronto Maple Leafs could break a championship curse that has been hanging over the organization since 1967.

They do now.

The Maple Leafs are back in the postseason after nearly a decade without an appearance, and the most optimistic fan in Toronto will try to find reasons the team can win its first Stanley Cup in nearly half a century.

They'll need to do some research and have faith in a team that won't be given much of a chance, but they'll realize that the Maple Leafs can pull this off much in the way the Los Angeles Kings did last season.

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