- The Bruins dominated the Toronto Maple Leafs last season – plain and simple. The Black & Gold swept the six game season series in 2011-12, scoring four or more goals in every contest and six or more goals in four of them. All told, the Bruins outscored Toronto 36-10.
The Maple Leafs, – and Bruins – however, don’t expect the success the B’s had last year to have any effect on what happens this season.
Toronto goalie James Reimer was 0-2-0 against Boston last year, with a .795 save percentage and 6.60 goal against average. The netminder says that while last year will be in the back of this team’s heads, the Leafs owe the Bruins, especially in a shortened season, in which every game counts.
“Sometimes a game like that you just forget, kind of forget it ever happened,” said Reimer of the 8-0 flurry the B’s put on the Leafs last March. “It is a divisional opponent, but that did happen, it’s in the back of your mind a little bit. You want to bring your best tonight, we just want to win and get two points.
“You never really forget what happened last year. We definitely owe them. Having said that, we want to beat them because they’re in our division, every game counts this year more than ever.
“We’re confident in this group. You look two years ago and you play well against them. Last year was kind of a weird year, but they’re a good team, they’re a solid team. But, I’ve got confidence in this group.
Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien is not looking at the past. He’s wants his team to focus on finishing off a successful week that saw the Black & Gold play four games in just six days.
“I don’t know, we’re not looking at it that way,” said Julien, when asked if last year’s success against Toronto would carry over. “Right now, it’s an opportunity to finish this four game stretch this week with a 3-1 record...or if not a 2-2 record and, for us, that’s not good enough.”
Maple Leafs forward Matt Frattin is expecting a hard-hitting game from the Bruins, but says his team can play just as tough.
“It’s going to be a high intense game,” said Frattin, following his team’s morning skate. “They’re a hard hitting team, a hard physical team, we play that way too, we’ve been playing that way all year, just keep doing what we’ve been doing. It’s going to be tough to get two points today, both teams will be going for it.”
Forward Tyler Bozak offered a similar take on the Bruins, pointing to the B’s ability to work hard and finish checks.
“If you look down the lineup, they’ve got a lot of guys that finish checks and get in on the forecheck hard, pound you,” he said. “They make good plays, they’re a pretty deep team throughout their lineup. We got to be ready to go.”
The Bruins players weren’t buying into the suggestion that last year would be any indication of how they would play against Toronto now, either.
“I’m not sure,” said Adam McQuaid, when asked why the Bruins had so much success against the Leaf last season. “It’s a new year, so it doesn’t matter.”
For the Leafs, it’s also a new era, with new head coach Randy Carlyle behind the bench.
“Just play with confidence, that’s one of the things he wants us to do,” said Frattin on Carlyle’s philosophy. “And I feel like we’ve been doing that lately. We just got keep things rolling and keep it simple.”
Carlyle has been pleased with his new club’s play to this point – they are 4-3-0 – but is far from satisfied. He feels there is room to improve and doesn’t want the Leafs to get complacent just because they have won two straight games.
“I think we have room for improvement. We played a better brand of hockey for a couple games.” Carlyle said this morning. “Any time you’re competitive in some games and you’re having success, there are pairings of defense and groupings of forwards that are meshing together.
“I don’t like to get too far ahead of ourselves, as far as who’s doing this and who’s doing that, how great we are. We need to settle down and play more consistent in all three zones before making any claims of what we are.
“We’re a work in progress and we have to go out there and continue to work as we did the other night [against Washington, a 3-2 win]. Those are more of the type of efforts that are going to be required night in, night out.”