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Ghosts of playoffs past haunt Game 7 of the Leafs – Bruins series


The bears and buds face off for the fourth time in twelve years, Toronto and Boston are set to clash in a Game 7

For the fourth time in twelve years, Toronto and Boston are gearing up for a Game 7 showdown. Despite the Bruins potentially facing another first-round collapse, Brad Marchand isn’t too worried, given their past encounters. So, get comfortable on the couch, grab some snacks and a drink, because Saturday night at 8:00 pm Eastern, it’s Toronto versus Boston at TD Garden. Coverage will be on ABC, ESPN+, and Sportsnet.

The Florida Nightmare That Won’t Go Away

“If someone told us at the beginning of the season, we’d have a Game 7 at home against Toronto, we’d take that all day,” remarked the Bruins captain after a 2-1 Game 6 loss. “It doesn’t matter how you get there — we’re there.”

However, how the Bruins ended up in this predicament does matter, despite Marchand’s dismissive stance. And it should give fans some jitters.

Like last year’s collapse against the Florida Panthers after leading 3-1 in the series, and 3-1 in game 7, Boston has eased off the gas pedal. They’ve breathed life into a Leafs team that looked disjointed in Game 4 and played Games 5 and 6 without their leading scorer of 69 goals.

They’re squandering it, and everyone can see it.

“I think everybody’s frustrated over there,” remarked Leafs forward Tyler Bertuzzi, who played for the Bruins last season.

This series mirrors last year’s Bruins series with Florida

In the first four games, Boston clearly outplayed Toronto. But things changed dramatically. Toronto, with Joseph Woll in goal, rallied while the Bruins faltered. It mirrors last year’s series when Florida replaced their goalie.

In Game 5, Toronto dominated defensively, limiting Boston to two shots in the first period, clinching a 2-1 overtime win. Game 6 saw a similar story with the Bruins managing just one shot in the first period in another 2-1 loss.

Suddenly, the Bruins find themselves on the brink, feeling the pressure.

“It’s understanding the magnitude but not being overwhelmed by it,” said Bruin’s goalie Jeremy Swayman.We all understand that in the playoffs, every game is a Game 7. That’s the intensity we want to bring every night.”

Toronto’s comeback, especially without Auston Matthews, who’s been sidelined with an undisclosed ailment, adds to the surprise.

However, the Bruins aren’t mincing words after Thursday’s loss.

It’s unacceptable, our start again,” remarked Boston coach Jim Montgomery, rejecting suggestions that last year’s loss to the Panthers affects their play.

We’re not living in the past. We’re not living in the future either. We’re living in the present. Right now, we’re not happy with our game.”

Pastrnak singled out by Coach Montgomery

Montgomery singled out David Pastrnak, who’s been quiet since the series’ early stages.

Pasta needs to step up,Montgomery asserted. “He needs to be the dominant player that we’re used to. He’s doing it in flurries. He’s not doing it as consistently as he did during the regular season.”

Pastrnak acknowledged the team’s offensive struggles, highlighting the need for improvement.

The Bruins can draw confidence from their history against the Leafs, including memorable Game 7 wins in 2013, 2018, and 2019. But recent games have clouded that confidence.

It doesn’t mean anything,” Marchand said of past Game 7 victories against the Leafs. “It doesn’t matter how things played out in the past. It doesn’t matter how we got to this point.”

These are where rivalries are built and formed. We must be grateful for it. It’s what you dream about as a kid. Game 7 — it’s where heroes are built and made.”

Nylander & Woll leading the charge for Maple Leafs

The Maple Leafs, with Nylander leading the charge, took down the Bruins 2-1 to force Game 7, marking a crucial comeback in their playoff journey.

Nylander, who missed the first three playoff games due to injury, made a significant impact by scoring twice, while Woll, entering the action when Toronto was facing elimination, made 22 saves.

Toronto’s victory, including an overtime win in Game 5, brings the series to a dramatic winner-takes-all Game 7 in Boston. With two assists, Morgan Rielly also played a crucial role.

Nylander, known for his composed style, showcased his skill by outmaneuvering Boston’s goalie Jeremy Swayman twice and actively battling for every opportunity.

Keefe praises Nylander

Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe praised Nylander’s performance as “big-time stuff,” emphasizing his caliber as a player.

Woll, stepping in for Ilya Samsonov, demonstrated his talent and composure in goal, with teammates crediting his determination and confidence.

This win is especially significant for Toronto, who came back from a 3-1 series deficit, a feat they’ve achieved only once in franchise history back in 1942.

Keefe highlighted the team’s unity and determination despite the absence of star player Auston Matthews for the second consecutive must-win game.

Woll’s confidence was boosted by the strong defensive efforts of his teammates, who limited Boston’s opportunities.

Game 6 highlights

The Leafs’ victory, albeit with a late goal from Morgan Geekie, secured their return to Boston with the series tied at 3-3.

Nylander’s first goal, with less than a minute left in the second period, sparked jubilant celebrations both inside and outside the arena.

In the third period, Woll made crucial saves, including one on Charlie Coyle, to maintain Toronto’s lead.

Nylander sealed the win with his second goal late in regulation, assisted by Matthew Knies, before Geekie scored for Boston in the dying seconds.

The series now heads back to Boston, reminiscent of 2019 when Toronto held a 3-2 series lead but couldn’t clinch the win.

Power Play struggles for the Leafs

Despite Toronto’s strong start in Game 6, the team struggled on the power play, continuing their inefficiency with the man advantage throughout the series.

Woll’s stellar performance and Nylander’s offensive prowess have given the Leafs a fighting chance. Now, they aim to secure their spot in the next round with one more determined effort.

Will Matthews Play Game 7?

According to The Athletic, Matthews is unlikely to play in Game 7. However, the team is taking a day-by-day approach with his situation, and his status for the series-deciding game is yet to be confirmed.

Matthews has missed the last two games after exiting Game 4 due to “an illness. “Despite his efforts to play through it in Game 3 and Game 4, he was unable to continue.

While sidelined, Matthews has been seen on the ice participating in drills, indicating his ongoing involvement with the team.

Even in Matthews’ absence, the Maple Leafs have managed to even the series at 3-3, setting the stage for Saturday’s decisive Game 7.

Joseph Woll – Another Ken Dryden?

At $766,667 a season, Joseph Woll has become the rarest of all Maple Leafs. He’s a bargain on a roster best known for high-priced talent. He’s an underpriced gem who pushed the Maple Leafs through to Game 6 at home, and now on to Game 7 in Boston on Saturday night. And who knows what after that? At somewhere between $4 and $5 million for every home date the Leafs play in the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Leafs are one win away from advancing against the struggling Bruins, which would give them at least two more home dates, which would make Woll just about the greatest Leafs investment in many a year.

Belfour & Joseph

This has happened before in Toronto, just not by anyone this young or this inexperienced. Ed Belfour won playoff games here by himself and that was before he was elected to the Hall of Fame. Curtis Joseph stole games and that was before he should have been elected to the Hall of Fame. Joseph Woll is 25 years old and 39 games into his National Hockey League career, which has been delayed at times because he hasn’t been able to stay healthy enough.

Patrick Roy

But playoff time invents new hockey heroes almost every spring. Patrick Roy won the Stanley Cup in his rookie season in Montreal. Out of nowhere come brilliant playoff goaltenders on occasion. Adin Hill won the Stanley Cup last year.

No one is suggesting Woll is taking the Leafs to the promised land or the Cup final or anything like that. But he is here, still standing after six games in this series with the Bruins, having played the third period of Game 4 and then having started Game 5 and 6 on two nights when the Maple Leafs’ season could have ended but didn’t. The scorebook on Woll through parts of three games, seven periods in total and two-plus minutes of overtime, reads this way: Two starts, two wins, a goals against average of 0.86, a save percentage of .964, a should-have-been-shutout performance in Game 6, the 2-1 victory over Boston in which Woll had a shutout until the final click on the clock. The scoreboard read Toronto 2, Boston 1 late Thursday night and really the scoreboard lied. It was a 2-0 game. It was a shutout.

Storied History

It was a gigantic victory for the Maple Leafs playing without their largest and most expensive superstar. And it explained playoff hockey, the many twists, the kids who come from nowhere, the stunning disappointments, all in 60 somewhat unexplainable minutes between the Leafs and the Bruins. With the lowest-paid player on the most expensive payroll in Leafs history coming up largest.

FanDuel Predictions for game 7 Leafs vs Bruins?

Boston Bruins (47-20-15) vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (46-26-10) Date: Saturday, May 4, 2024 Time: 8:00 PM ET Venue: TD Garden — Boston, Massachusetts Coverage: ABC and ESPN+

Bruins vs Maple Leafs Odds

Bruins (-143)Maple Leafs (+118)5.5Bruins (-1.5)

Bruins vs Maple Leafs Prediction & Pick

Prediction: Bruins win (57.4%)

Bruins vs Maple Leafs Spread

The Bruins are 1.5-goal favourites against the Maple Leafs. The Bruins are +188 to cover the spread, and the Maple Leafs are -227.

Bruins vs Maple Leafs Over/Under

A total of 5.5 goals has been set for the Bruins-Maple Leafs game on May 4, with the over available at +100 and the under at -120.

Bruins vs Maple Leafs Moneyline

Boston is the favourite, -143 on the moneyline, while Toronto is a +118 underdog on the road.

The History of Boston vs Toronto

Today, let’s delve into the highlights from the history of Leafs-Bruins matchups before their Saturday night game 7 showdown at TD Gardens in Boston.


As many fans are aware, the Toronto Maple Leafs have had a series of tough playoff matchups against the Boston Bruins, losing to them in the first round four times in the past twelve years alone. This rivalry between the Leafs and Bruins goes back a long way, with 16 playoff series played between them. However, what’s striking is that the Leafs haven’t secured a playoff victory over the Bruins since 1959.

Boston Toronto Highlights

October 3, 1958: New Leafs general manager (and coach) Punch Imlach made his mark on the team by initiating the first of four trades that would bring in veteran players to complement the emerging young talents from the Toronto Marlboros and St. Michael’s College. This blend would eventually lead to the Leafs winning four Stanley Cups in the 1960s. On this day, Imlach acquired 32-year-old defenseman Allan Stanley from the Boston Bruins in exchange for Jim Morrison.

April 7, 1959: The Leafs won Game 7 of their first-round playoff series with Boston by a 3-2 score, marking the beginning of a tough period for the Bruins. After this playoff, the Bruins would miss the playoffs for eight consecutive seasons, finishing fifth twice and dead last six times.

60 Years and Counting

However, Toronto hasn’t beaten the Bruins in a playoff series since. It’s the longest current drought — 60 years, to be exact — that the Leafs have against any Original Six team.

Bobby Orr

The Leafs had a sort of monopoly on getting first dibs on any quality young player from Ontario thanks to their territorial rights. This system helped them develop a strong team. Anthony Gilchrist, a scout for the Leafs, informed Punch Imlach of a young player named Bobby Orr. However, Imlach didn’t respond directly, passing the note to his chief scout, who declined to follow up on Orr, saying he was too young. The letter ended with the haunting remark: “I hope that someday Bob Orr will be playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs.”

January 18, 1964: On the way to winning their third consecutive Stanley Cup, the Maple Leafs suffered a humiliating 11-0 shutout by the Bruins. It remains the most lopsided shutout ever recorded against the Leafs.

Gerry Cheevers

June 9, 1965: In a rare move, Imlach had to decide about his top minor-league goalie, Gerry Cheevers. He chose not to protect his veteran goaltenders, leading to the Bruins claiming Cheevers. This move added another future Hall of Famer to the Bruins’ roster, and Cheevers would play a pivotal role in their Stanley Cup victories in the 1970s.

The Knees

December 4, 1966: Marcel Pronovost’s hit on Bobby Orr marked the beginning of Orr’s knee troubles. This hit eventually led to Orr’s first knee surgery, which plagued his Hall of Fame career.

May 15, 1967: The Leafs’ upset over the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round of the playoffs paved the way for a trade that bolstered the Bruins’ roster significantly.

April 6, 1969: The Bruins humiliated the Leafs in the playoffs, marking the end of the Punch Imlach era.

March 3, 1972: Darryl Sittler recorded his historic 10-point night against the Bruins in a regular season game.

December 30, 1989: The Leafs staged their largest comeback win in team history, defeating the Bruins 7-6 in overtime after being down 6-1.

January 3, 1996: Rookie Bruins head coach Steve Kasper sat out both Cam Neely and Kevin Stevens for an entire game at Maple Leaf Gardens, resulting in a 4-4 tie and sparking controversy.

And the Winner of Game Seven Is?

Facts are undeniable, especially when it comes to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ recent performance. Over the past few years, the Leafs have shown a knack for stepping up when one of their core four players is injured. Whether it’s been Rielly, Matthews, or Marner sidelined for more than a couple of games, someone has always risen to the occasion in the face of adversity. Additionally, when a key player is out, the team seems to shift towards a more defensive strategy. They become more committed to a structured defense, allowing their goalies better sightlines and focusing on clearing the puck out of their zone to relieve pressure. It’s a departure from the high-flying offense they’re known for, but a necessary adjustment.

Whether it’s Keefe adjusting the game plan or the players realizing that they can’t rely solely on offense to win games, the Leafs have shown adaptability. However, one could argue that the Leafs might have already clinched the series if the inconsistent Samsonov hadn’t been in goal from the start, with Wolle taking the lead.

The pressure for Game Seven is undoubtedly on the Bruins, especially after their collapse against Florida last year. However, they do have the advantage of playing at home. While Pastrnak has been quiet throughout the series, the real question is whether Marner has truly shown up. Perhaps the most perplexing question is whether the Leafs are better off without Matthews in Game Seven???

My prediction: Boston wins Game Seven in overtime with a goal by Marchand. In some ways, this outcome may save the Leafs from being swept by the Florida Panthers in Round 2.

Myles Shane

by Myles Shane

Other articles from totimes.ca – otttimes.ca – mtltimes.ca

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