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Need to Know: Bruins-Maple Leafs

Original Six showdown will be 15th postseason meeting between the teams

by Eric Russo @NHLBruins /

The 2018 Boston Bruins Playoffs are presented by JetBlue.

BOSTON - It seemed like a fait accompli.

For the majority of the 2017-18 season, the Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs appeared to be careening towards a meeting in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Some late-season jostling put the matchup in jeopardy, but after Boston's loss in the regular-season finale on Sunday night, the Original Six showdown is now set.

For the 15th time in history - and first time since 2013 - it will be Boston and Toronto in the postseason.

"I'm looking forward to it," said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. "Two Original Six teams. They're young…they've got some veteran guys - [Patrick] Marleau, [James] van Riemsdyk, certain guys that they expect to lean on. [Nazem] Kadri's kind of in between. We have some younger guys; we have some guys we're going to lean on.

"We both exited in the first round last year, probably learned some lessons. They've got a great coach [in Mike Babcock] that I've always looked up to and tried to learn from. I think both [have] good goaltenders.

"It should be a terrific series if both teams are on their game, and that's playoff hockey right there - a lot of speed, probably a lot of physicality."

Video: Bruins GM Don Sweeney speaks ahead of playoffs

Opposing View

The Maple Leafs finished third in the Atlantic Division with 105 points, seven behind the Bruins. Toronto boasts a potent offensive attack, having ranked fourth in the league in goals per game (3.29) and second on the power play (25.0%). On the defensive side, Toronto allowed 2.80 goals per game, ranking 12th in the NHL. They were 11th on the penalty kill at 81.4%.

A bevy of young talent leads the Leafs, including leading scorer Mitch Marner (20 years old), who paced Toronto with 69 points (22 goals, 47 assists). Twenty-year-old Auston Matthews, limited to just 62 games due to injury, had 34 goals and 63 points this season, while 21-year-old William Nylander rounded out the team's top three scorers with 61 points (20 goals, 41 assists).

The Maple Leafs' top line of Matthews, Nylander, and Zach Hyman is a combined 66 years old.

Like the Bruins, Toronto's youth is complemented well by an experienced core, including James van Riemsdyk (led Toronto with 36 goals), Nazem Kadri (32 goals), and Patrick Marleau (27 goals).

On the back end, 24-year-old Morgan Rielly anchors Toronto's top pairing with 37-year-old Ron Hainsey. Rielly and Jake Gardiner paced the back end with 52 points apiece this season.

Goalie Frederik Andersen was 38-21-5 with a 2.81 goals against average and .918 save percentage this season.

"A very tough team," said Brad Marchand. "They play very fast, a lot of skilled players, very high tempo and they never quit. You watch the way they play all year, they battle [until the] last second and they've won a lot of games in the last minute, so they're competitive and they don't shy away from anything. So, it's going to be a good series. They're one of the toughest teams that I think we've played against all year and it will be a good battle."

Projected Toronto lineup:

Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - William Nylander
Patrick Marleau - Nazem Kadri - Mitch Marner
James van Riemsdyk -Tyler Bozak - Connor Brown
Leo Komarov - Tomas Plekanec - Kasperi Kapanen

Morgan Rielly - Ron Hainsey
Jake Gardiner - Nikita Zaitsev
Travis Dermott - Roman Polak

Frederik Andersen
Curtis McElhinney

This Season

The Bruins struggled with the Maple Leafs during the regular season, dropping three of the four meetings (1-2-1). Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, and Torey Krug led the Bruins with four points each against Toronto this season, while Mitch Marner paced the Leafs with nine points (three goals, six assists) over the four games.

Nov. 10 at TOR - Bruins 2, Maple Leafs 3 (OT)
Nov. 11 at BOS - Bruins 1, Maple Leafs 4
Feb. 3 at BOS - Bruins 4, Maple Leafs 1
Feb. 24 at TOR - Bruins 3, Maple Leafs 4

"I thought the games during the year, even though we lost more than we won, I thought we were very competitive and could easily have won," said Cassidy. "We let one get away in the last minute earlier in the year [in the first meeting]…before we had really learned how to win, what to do to play winning hockey down the stretch. We're a lot different team than we were way back then."

Last Postseason Meeting

Who could forget this one?

The Bruins and Maple Leafs met in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs in one of the most memorable first-round series in history.

After Boston opened up a 3-1 series lead on David Krejci's overtime winner in Game 4, Toronto captured the ensuing two games to force a Game 7. The Maple Leafs appeared well on their way to overcoming the two-game series deficit to advance to the second round when they surged to a 4-1 lead early in the third period of the deciding game.

But the Bruins had other ideas. Nathan Horton scored with 9:18 to play to bring the Bruins within two, setting off a wild comeback for the ages. Milan Lucic added another goal with 1:22 to play to cut the deficit to one, before Patrice Bergeron knotted the score with 51 seconds remaining in regulation and Tuukka Rask on the bench for an extra attacker.

Bergeron went on to notch the winner at 6:05 of overtime, making the Bruins the first team in NHL history to win a Game 7 after trailing by three goals in the third period.

Boston went on to the Stanley Cup Final that June, losing to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games.

Thirteen players (eight Bruins, five Leafs) remain from that series:

BOS: Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Anton Khudobin, David Krejci, Torey Krug, Brad Marchand, Adam McQuaid, and Tuukka Rask.

TOR: Tyler Bozak, Nazem Kadri, Leo Komarov, James van Riemsdyk, and Jake Gardiner.

All-Time Playoff Record

The Bruins are 6-8 in 14 previous series against the Maple Leafs, with the teams splitting 69 games (34-34-1). Nine of the meetings came before 1950 and all but one before 1974.

The teams have met once in the Stanley Cup Final, Boston's 4-1 series victory in 1939 for their second Stanley Cup title.

2013 First Round - Boston 4, Toronto 3
1974 Quarterfinals - Boston 4, Toronto 0
1972 Quarterfinals - Boston 4, Toronto 1
1969 Quarterfinals - Boston 4, Toronto 0
1959 Semifinals - Boston 3, Toronto 4
1951 Semifinals - Boston 1, Toronto 4
1949 Semifinals - Boston 1, Toronto 4
1948 Semifinals - Boston 1, Toronto 4
1941 Semifinals - Boston 4, Toronto 3
1939 Stanley Cup Final - Boston 4, Toronto 1
1938 Semifinals - Boston 0, Toronto 3
1936 Quarterfinals - Boston 1, Toronto 1 (Maple Leafs won series on goal differential, 11-3)
1935 Semifinals - Boston 1, Toronto 3
1933 Semifinals - Boston 2, Toronto 3

Fun Facts

  • Game 2 of the 1951 semifinals series between these teams ended in a 1-1 tie so that Maple Leaf Gardens could be cleared of patrons by midnight due to a Toronto law in effect that placed an 11:45 p.m. curfew on sporting events. It is the last tie in Bruins playoff history.
  • The Bruins' 10-0 win over Toronto on Apr. 2, 1969 in Game 1 of their quarterfinals series stands as their largest margin of victory in a playoff game and is tied for the most goals that they have scored in a playoff game (Boston defeated St. Louis by a 10-2 score on Apr. 20, 1972). The Bruins also set a club record with six power-play goals in that win. The game was delayed when fans smashed the glass partition separating the penalty box from the seating area while pelting Toronto's Pat Quinn, who was serving a five-minute major penalty for elbowing Bobby Orr.
  • Phil Esposito set a club record for points in a game and recorded the only four-goal playoff game in team history with four goals and two assists in the 10-0 victory.

Series Schedule

Game 1: Thursday, April 12 at 7 p.m. (TD Garden, Boston, MA) - NESN, NBCSN, CBC, TVA

Game 2: Saturday, April 14 at 8 p.m. (TD Garden, Boston, MA) - NBC, CBC, TVA

Game 3: Monday, April 16 at 7 p.m. (Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON) - NESN, NBCSN, CBC, TVA

Game 4: Thursday, April 19 at 7 p.m. (Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON) - NESN, NBCSN, CBC, TVA

Game 5: Saturday April 21 at TBD (TD Garden, Boston, MA) - TBD

Game 6: Monday, April 23 at TBD (Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON) - TBD

Game 7: Wednesday, April 25 at TBD (TD Garden, Boston, MA) - TBD

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