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5 Keys: Maple Leafs at Bruins, Game 7

Toronto hoping to win series for first time since 2004; Boston must take advantage of home ice

by Amalie Benjamin @AmalieBenjamin / Staff Writer



Best-of-7 series tied 3-3

As probably should have been expected heading into the Eastern Conference First Round between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins, it's come down to Game 7 at TD Garden on Tuesday.

It's the third time in seven seasons the teams have gone to a deciding game in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs (2013, 2018). Each were won in come-from-behind fashion by the Bruins. 

Boston hopes to continue that run, while Toronto looks to win a playoff series for the first time since 2004. 

The winner will face the Columbus Blue Jackets in the second round.

Here are 5 keys for Game 7:


[RELATED: Complete Bruins vs. Maple Leafs series coverage]


1. Vanquish the ghosts

The Maple Leafs still haven't proven they can advance to the second round or defeat the Bruins. It's time for them to make the leap.

Even though the Maple Leafs will be playing in a building that has given them nightmares, they need to ignore the past and focus on the future, winning one game to elevate them to a place they haven't been in more than a decade. 

Because as everyone in Toronto would acknowledge: It's time. 


2. Replicate Game 6

The Bruins believed they played their best game of the series Sunday, even better than their 4-1 win in Game 2 in Boston. So the best way for the Bruins to defeat the Maple Leafs and move on is simple: Do exactly what they've already done.

Boston simplified its game, shot the puck and put pressure on Toronto. The Bruins did what they did best in the regular season, the same strategies that helped them finish second in the NHL standings with 107 points. 

"We felt really good about our game," Bruins defenseman Torey Krug said. "I think it was one of the more complete efforts, closer to our DNA as a team in this series. It's been something that we want to bottle up and use to our advantage going into next game. That's what we're trying to do."

 Video: The Bruins surge back to take Game 6 in Toronto


3. Take advantage of home ice

Though the Bruins were 29-9-3 at TD Garden in the regular season, they haven't made home-ice advantage work for them in the playoffs, losing Game 1 and Game 5 in Boston. They'll need to be better in front of the home crowd if they want to advance. 

"We've played really well at home this year," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. "If you get caught up in the matchups, maybe that's something. When you're on the road, you just put [your players] out there and then they have to react to it. So sometimes it's almost easier, as far as a coach goes, coach on the road, pick your players and trust them to get the job done. That could have something to do with it."


4. Special teams battle

The Bruins have taken advantage of power plays against a leaky Maple Leafs penalty kill, scoring seven goals on 16 chances (43.8 percent). The question is whether Toronto can stay out of the box, or barring that, find a way to contain Boston's power play. 


5. Success at the dot

The Maple Leafs haven't had a lot of success in the face-off circles during the playoffs. The Bruins have won 52.6 percent of face-offs in the series (184 of 350), giving them more possession and ability to control the puck. 

Bruins center Patrice Bergeron won 17 of 23 face-offs in Game 6 (73.9 percent), and has won 61.9 percent for the series (86 of 139).

A few more wins for the Maple Leafs, especially in the offensive zone, could go a long way.


Maple Leafs projected lineup

Zach Hyman -- John Tavares -- Mitchell Marner

Andreas Johnsson -- Auston Matthews -- Kasperi Kapanen

Patrick Marleau -- William Nylander -- Connor Brown

Tyler Ennis -- Frederik Gauthier -- Trevor Moore

Morgan Rielly -- Ron Hainsey

Jake Muzzin -- Nikita Zaitsev

Jake Gardiner -- Travis Dermott

Frederik Andersen

Michael Hutchinson

Scratched: Joseph Woll, Garret Sparks, Justin Holl, Nic Petan, Calle Rosen, Martin Marincin, Igor Ozhiganov

Injured: None

Suspended: Nazem Kadri


Bruins projected lineup

Brad Marchand -- Patrice Bergeron -- Danton Heinen

Jake DeBrusk -- David Krejci -- David Pastrnak

Marcus Johansson -- Charlie Coyle -- Karson Kuhlman

Joakim Nordstrom -- Sean Kuraly -- Noel Acciari

Zdeno Chara -- Charlie McAvoy

Torey Krug -- Brandon Carlo

John Moore -- Matt Grzelcyk

Tuukka Rask

Jaroslav Halak

Scratched: Steven Kampfer, David Backes, Chris Wagner

Injured: Kevan Miller (lower body), Connor Clifton (upper body)


Status report

Hyman didn't participate in the morning skate but is expected to play. … Each team will use the same lineup from Game 6.

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