The Boston Bruins lost Game 1 of the first round series of the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Not an ideal start for them certainly, but it’s not the end of the world. The Bruins have learned a very valuable lesson of how the Maple Leafs will play. Better said, they have to learn how to play and solve the Leafs in the upcoming games.
First of all, the Bruins can still lose two more games in the series and make the second round of the playoffs. In Game 1, the Bruins had better energy right from the start, opened the scoring but it anything but great from there. The Bruins need to improve.
After a shaky start to Game 1, the Leafs managed to play an incredibly disciplined and responsible style of hockey. That was something that the Bruins underestimated a little bit. They knew they are a better team heading out of the tunnel before the anthems, they also had a good start of the game. The B’s maybe didn’t expect the Leafs to play such a responsible style of hockey
In the last 13 head-to-head meetings between the Bruins and the Maple Leafs (including the playoffs), the Bruins scored at least two goals per game. In other words, the Leafs have never been able to keep the Bruins within just one goal scored. In their last seven overall games at TD Garden, the only win for the Leafs came in a game where the Leafs kept Boston to just three goals. In each of the other six meetings, Toronto allowed four or more goals and lost all of those games.
That was something that the Leafs needed to address and they have done so. On the other side, the Bruins ended up a bit surprised that the Leafs improved in that area. They were able to genuinely frustrate the Bruins as the B’s gave them way too many breakaways to score and take advantage. With that lead, Mike Babcock could easily roll out his reliable guys like John Tavares, Connor Brown, Nazem Kadri or Patrick Marleau, who was focusing just on shutting the Bruins down.
That’s something that to Bruins cannot let happen in Game 2 and in the further continuation of the series. Not generously offering that amount of good breakaways, the Leafs scored just once from their own inside the offensive zone play. That time Mitch Marner scored after he hit the post twice and the puck winded up deflecting off Zdeno Chara into the net. From all those other offensive Leafs’ plays, the Bruins didn’t have many problems. It was all about those careless plays with the puck, mainly in the second period.
Boston has to improve in that area, they must take care of the puck better while converting their chances. The Bruins had 64 CF and found the back of the net just once and that´s not good enough. Bruins’ top players need to play adequately to the expectations. David Pastrnak had no points, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron combined for that opening tally, but couldn’t generate that much danger later on.
The Bruins top defensive pair was rather poor. Charlie McAvoy had 21-25 in Corsi during the even-strength while his defensive partner Zdeno Chara had 16-21 in Corsi in EV. Neither of the other four
Take care of the puck, convert on some of their chances and make sure their key skaters play their best way. The Toronto Maple Leafs are definitely a playable team, but the Bruins cannot expect that the Leafs will beat themselves. In fact, if the game is going to be played like in Game 1, the Leafs are pretty confident and comfortable with it.
P.S.: The Bruins should stop giving up shorties! It’s not funny anymore!