TML First-Round Preview: Scared about Playing the Bruins Again?
Exorcising the Demons of 2013
Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Thursday officially marks night two of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, featuring five games on the schedule, highlighted by a matchup of 2013’s seven-game thriller between two Original Six franchises.
The Boston Bruins are set to host Toronto in a highly-anticipated matchup that’s expected to go the distance just as it did five years ago.
Nazem Kadri, James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak, Leo Komarov, and Jake Gardiner are the only five remaining Maple Leaf players reminiscent of that colossal collapse. There’s a case to be made that each of these veterans has elevated their level of play since that time.
Subsequently, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, and Tuukka Rask are only remaining Bruins from that same era, which saw Boston fall 4 games to 2 versus Chicago in the Stanley Cup Final.
Forget everything you thought you knew. These are vastly different clubs at both ends of the ice.
Brad Marchand has evolved into a top-sniper, while Zdeno Chara has taken on more of a shutdown role and is far past the prime of his former perennial 50-point pace.
It almost goes without saying for Nazem Kadri nowadays, who’s transformed himself into one of the league’s best two-way centres and continues to improve upon his game—with back-to-back 32-goal campaigns to show for it.
It definitely goes without saying that veterans such as Bergeron, Krejci, and Chara will pose a constant threat on the ice… But don’t sleep on a new addition and future Hall of Famer in Patrick Marleau for contributions.
Even the goaltending matchup is far from what it once was, as Frederik Andersen’s undeniable stability in the crease for Toronto has been a large contributor to the team’s success. Andersen has a solid post-season track record of 19-13, including a .915 SV% and 2.41 GAA. Not to mention, the 28-year-old Dane owns an impressive 10-1-0 career record versus the Bruins.
He’s proven to be a difference maker in his short tenure with the blue and white—and he’ll need to do just that if the Maple Leafs intend to advance to Round 2.
Tuukka Rask is no slouch, either.
Despite criticism of their back-end, Toronto is one of just two teams to boast a pair of 50+ point defencemen since 2015-16 with Morgan Rielly (52 pts) and Jake Gardiner (52) at the helm.
In 2013, Auston Matthews was leading the Arizona Bobcats 16U Midget team, Mitch Marner was lighting it up for the AAA Don Mills Flyers Minor Midgets, and William Nylander prepping for his NHL draft year with Sweden.
Leo Komarov has been an All-Star since then, a complete teardown of management and an overturn in player personnel have seen the Maple Leafs transform into a legitimate threat and Stanley Cup contender since that dreaded first-round playoff exit in 2013.
In terms of depth, Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk helped form the first line in 2012-13. If you catch my drift.
Did I forget to mention “coaching?”
I mean, there’s just a few differences.
- Rick Nash is confirmed to return from a concussion that’s kept him out since March 17th
- Tomas Plekanec in at 4C over Dominic Moore
- Josh Leivo, Matt Martin, Andreas Johnsson, and Connor Carrick are also expected to be healthy scratches
Stay tuned for tonight’s game report.
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E-mail - gordon@BarnBurner.ca
On Twitter - @GordBrown_
Photo Credit: NHL.com