The Boston Bruins will square off with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, in what could turn out to be the series to watch this round.
On Thursday April 12, one of the most high-caliber first round Stanley Cup Playoff matchups will take place when the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs will meet in a rematch of their memorable 2013 playoff series. The matchup has looked like almost a lock since December, and despite it looking like at the last minute it wouldn’t happen, it’s here and it’s real, so buckle up.
This matchup is easily one of the most anticipated series in almost every fashion with a rivalry-style matchup, excitement factor and goal scoring. Boston and Toronto are easily two of the deepest offensive teams in the NHL and could both be on a path to the conference finals if they didn’t have to play each other.
To put it simply, the Bruins have the formula to win a Stanley Cup right now and they don’t look to be slowing down despite all they’ve had to endure throughout the season. The Bruins in November were icing what very well could have been real people after a bunch of injuries, but I’m still not convinced a majority of those players existed.
As the season went on, players slowly began coming back, the Bruins began adding more pieces like Rick Nash and Ryan Donato and all of the sudden, the Bruins went from fringe playoff team in October to Stanley Cup contender with 112 points in April.
Boston can score and defend with any team in the league, sitting sixth in the league in goal scoring with 270 goals for and third in the league in goals against at 214. The Bruins are physical, defensively sound, have strong goaltending and have the leadership with championship rings to their names to bring home another Cup to Boston.
Last year the Bruins quietly made the playoffs and were quietly beaten in six games by the Ottawa Senators after missing the playoffs the previous two seasons. Losing in the first round this year would be devastating, and not the kind of precedent the Bruins want to set for the future.
In their 101-year history, the Toronto Maple Leafs just had the best regular season they have ever had with 105 points. In most years, a franchise record in points, especially for a team as tenured as the Maple Leafs, would usually land you a top spot in your division, but that’s not the case with Toronto. Instead, they get the third seed to face a fellow powerhouse in the Bruins and a chance to unleash vengeance for the defeat five years ago.
The Maple Leafs are a young, fun-to-watch team with a cult-like following ready to see this team succeed. But the Leafs are more than just a feel-good story.
This team finished fifth in league scoring led by elite young talent supported by a strong veteran cast, and they’ve got one of most reliable goaltenders in the league in Frederik Andersen to back them up.
The blue line is the main concern for the Leafs and has been all season long, but that didn’t stop the Leafs from winning the season series with the Bruins 3-1, one win even coming without star forward Auston Matthews.
If there’s one team that can knock out the surging Bruins in Round 1, it is the Leafs.
Last year, in their return to the postseason, the Toronto Maple Leafs pushed the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Washington Capitals farther than anticipated, but were eventually overwhelmed en route to a six game defeat. They got a taste of what playoff hockey was like last year, but now it’s the real deal. There’s no more house money games, and they’ve got to be able to handle a bitter rivalry as well as a fellow powerhouse. This is the year for Toronto to not only take the next step and get past Round 1, but to exorcise the Boston Bruin demons from blowing a 4-1 lead with under 10 minutes to in game 7 in 2013.
This is the one of the most exciting first round match-ups we are privileged to be seeing this year, and it all could hinge on one bounce going the right away, one incredible save or one perfect shot in a deciding game. Expect a brutal back-and-forth series between two great teams. However, in the end, one of these teams has to lose. There is no easy answer, but the Toronto Maple Leafs are the team that will emerge when the dust settles from this colossal matchup, overcoming a 3-2 series deficit after going into Boston and taking a razor-close Game 7 to exorcise the 4-1 demons of 2013 in a series to remember.