Bruins Capitalize on the Man-Advantage; Ride Three Power Play Goals to 5-1 Victory in Game 1

Round 1 Game 1 — Boston (5) Toronto (1) Final

By: Gordon Brown

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Thursday officially marked 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 were 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.

In 2013, Auston Matthews was leading the Arizona Bobcats 16U Midget team, Mitch Marner was lighting it up for the Don Mills Flyers AAA Minor Midgets, and William Nylander prepping for his NHL draft year with Sweden.

In terms of depth, Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk helped form the top line in 2012-13. If you catch my drift…

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 game seven playoff exit. 

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. 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 onto Round 2.

Tuukka Rask is no slouch, either…

As the action got underway, the mighty Bruins flexed their scoring prowess with an early power play opportunity.

Everybody’s favourite pest, Brad Marchand, opened the scoring with a slick individual effort to beat Frederik Andersen. Torey Krug entered the offensive zone with speed before handing the puck off to Marchand, who evaded several defenders before slipping a backhand shot upstairs for a 1-0 lead.

It took some time but the Maple Leafs managed to respond later in the frame and found an equalizer courtesy of Zach Hyman.

Connor Brown elevated the puck up the boards and created a foot race for the puck—which Zach Hyman won with authority as he proceeded down the ice with a head of steam. With a pair of defenders on his back, Hyman fought towards the net and made a power move against Tuukka Rask, who failed to stop a backhander up and over his pad.

The second period saw a lot of the same back-and-forth affair but Boston would strike twice late in the frame to take a 3-1 advantage. 

Patrick Marleau took a costly hooking penalty and sent the Bruins back on the power play for the second time—where they would remain a perfect 2/2. David Krejci fed David Backes with a backdoor pass, to which he flipped up and over Andersen for the go-ahead marker. 

David Pastrnak followed up with a goal of his own in the last minute of play to add some insurance to Boston’s lead. The Bruins controlled the offensive zone and forced a defensive breakdown before capitalizing on the situation to double-up on the Leafs. Brad Marchand weaved through the several defenders before feeding Pastrnak in the high-slot, where he rifled a wrist shot past Andersen.

Thus, proving the final minute can make or break a game…

After forty minutes, the Bruins dominated with a 61.522 overall CF% and led 25-18 in shots. Additionally, Boston capitalized and went 2/2 on the power play while Toronto faltered with an 0/3 stat line.

That lead increased to 5-1 come the third period—which is where the final score would stand.

Sean Kuraly and David Krejci (PPG) each tallied, respectively, to put the game out of Toronto’s reach and take an early 1-0 series lead before Game 2 commences on Saturday night.

Boston’s three power play goals proved to be the difference in spite of several lopsided calls… Which might see a Nazem Kadri suspension, barring review from the NHL Department of Player Safety.

Game 2 goes on Saturday night at 8:00 p.m. EST.

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Photo Credit: @MapleLeafs