But, after a 4-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden on Sunday night, the B’s were locked into the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference and a meeting with their Northeast rivals. It will be the 14th time in playoff history that the Leafs and Bruins face off in the second season (the Bruins have won five of the previous 13 series).
Just moments after the Bruins loss to Ottawa, B’s Head Coach Claude Julien was already focused in on the playoffs. Although the Bruins didn’t finish the season as well as they would’ve have liked – they went 3-5-2 over their last 10 games – Julien said his team is looking forward to turning the page and starting the quest for their second Stanley Cup in three seasons.
“I think we’ve got to turn the page here on tonight’s game and what’s happened lately,” said Julien.
“All I know is that we’re starting a new season, sometime this week. We’ve earned a spot in the playoffs, which we should be proud of that. There’s a lot of teams right now that are doing something a lot different than what we’re doing, and we should be happy about that."
As announced not longer after Coach Julien's postgame press conference Sunday night, the Bruins and Leafs will first face off in Game 1 on this Wednesday, May 1, at TD Garden at 7 p.m.
“You start from scratch, everybody has the same record going into the playoffs," added Julien. "Now it’s a new season, and it’s an opportunity for us to challenge for the Cup. So we have to get ourselves ready here in the next few days, and build hopefully some good momentum going forward.
“That’s what I told the guys after the game, we just need to get excited about the opportunity that we have here and that’s what we plan on doing. Again, it’s a privilege to be in the playoffs.”
The storylines are already building in anticipation of the Leafs-Bruins matchup. Toronto is playing in the postseason for the first time since 2004 and Shawn Thornton, who hails from Oshawa, just outside of Toronto, knows that with an Original Six series comes a lot of excitement.
“It’s always fun,” said Thornton. “It’s two of the biggest hockey markets going at it. Maybe not as classic a rivalry as a Montreal-Boston, or Toronto-Montreal, I guess, but I think whenever you have two Original Six teams going at it – and [the Leafs] haven’t been in it for a while, so I know they’re going to be pretty jacked up, up there.”
Tyler Seguin, who always seems to perform well against Toronto, having put up nearly a point per game (10-6=16) in 15 career games against the Leafs, is ready for all of the hype, but says he won’t be paying too much attention.
“I think any time you’re in the playoffs the atmosphere is pretty great,” said Seguin. “I’m sure Toronto is going to be good as well."
"I guess I’ll turn my phone off for the playoffs," he joked. I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of storylines. So definitely excited to get started."
“I already looked at my phone and had more text messages than usual," he smiled. "Definitely the town is going to be excited, but I think we will be as well.”
Of the comparisons to Phil Kessel – Kessel was traded to the Leafs from the Bruins in the fall of 2009 for two first round picks that became Seguin and Dougie Hamilton – Seguin said, “I won’t be listening, so I don’t know...Just my mom will.”
The Bruins took three out of four games in the regular season series, but like Julien, David Krejci said the playoffs are a blank slate. What happened during the season will have no bearing on the series.
“We’ve just got to turn the page,” said Krejci, who finished second to Brad Marchand in team scoring with 33 points. “It’s basically a new season. Everybody starts off 0-0, so we’ve just got to get ready, don’t think about it.
“We beat them three times out of four this season, and we’ve just got to go out there, we know they’re going to be playing their best, so we’ve got to get ready and the first games are really important.”
Julien praised the play of the fifth-seeded Leafs following the Bruins loss to the Senators. He said with the way Toronto is playing, the Bruins are in for a tough and compelling series against their Northeast Division foes.
“Right now, they’re a team that earned a spot in the playoffs because they play a real tough type of game and they grind it out,” Julien explained. “They’ve got toughness, they’ve got skill, they’ve got speed; they’ve got a mixture of everything. It’s a team that’s well-coached.
“Our games against them have been close this year, it’s going to be an interesting series.”
Here’s a closer look at the series with some interesting facts and figures:
Match-Up: The Bruins and Maple Leafs faced off four times this season, with the B's taking three out of the four games. The Bruins came away with a 1-0 shutout victory in the first match-up of the season in Toronto on February 2, before following that up with a 4-2 win in Boston on March 7, the start of a breakout stretch for Tyler Seguin, who notched three points (2-1) against the Leafs, after struggling early in the season with the adjustment from overseas' ice to the NHL. The Leafs took the opener of a home-and-home in Toronto on March 23, 3-2, before the Bruins battled to win the second game in Boston by the same score.
Leading Performers: Patrice Bergeron (2-2=4) and Brad Marchand (0-4=4) were the leading scorers against the Leafs this season, both tallying four points in four games, while Nazem Kadri (2-1=3) and Mikhail Grabovski (1-2=3) tallied three points each against the Bruins.
Goalie Duel: Rask went 2-0-0 against Toronto, appearing in three games, with a 0.85 GAA and .958 save percentage and allowing two goals on 48 shots. Khudobin went 1-1-0, with a 2.95 GAA and .868 save percentage, giving up five goals on 38 shots. James Reimer played in three games, going 1-1-1 (1.63 GAA, .948 SV%), allowing five goals on 96 shots, while Ben Scrivens was 0-1-1 with a 3.06 GAA and .875 save percentage, giving up three goals on 24 shots.
Special Teams: The Bruins were 0-for-7 on the power play against the Leafs this season, while Toronto scored on one of 11 tries. Thus, making Toronto perfect on the PK against the B's and Boston at 90.9%, allowing the one goal.
Playoff History: The Maple Leafs and Bruins have met 13 times in the postseason, with the first time coming in the 1933 semifinals and the latest in the 1974 quarterfinals. The Bruins have won five of the all-time series, but overall, the Maple Leafs lead the series 31-30-1.
Game One: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at Boston – 7 p.m.
Game Two: Saturday, May 4, 2013 at Boston – 7 p.m.
Game Three: Monday, May 6, 2013 at Toronto – 7 p.m.
Game Four: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at Toronto – 7 p.m.
Game Five: Friday, May 10, 2013 at Boston – 7 p.m. *if necessary
Game Six: Sunday, May 12, 2013 at Toronto – TBD *if necessary
Game Seven: Monday, May 13, 2013 at Boston – TBD *if necessary