Hockey fans all over the globe — not just those diehards in America’s hat — couldn’t help but get excited over the prospects of a Toronto-Montreal series in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. However, the Bruins went and screwed that up Sunday night in Boston.
The B’s fell to Ottawa 4-2 at TD Garden, and in the process, they threw a monkey wrench into what would have been a must-see series between the Maple Leafs and Canadiens, arguably hockey’s most bitter rivalry. Because the Bruins lost, they fell to the No. 4 seed where they’ll take on the Maple Leafs, while the Habs sit at No. 2 and will take on Ottawa.
A Bruins-Leafs series isn’t something to be bummed out about, though. The two teams certainly share a pretty bitter rivalry of their own, one that dates back to the league’s earlier days as Original Six rivals. In addition to the historical intrigue of the series, it will also feature two teams that have been linked closely in the past few years, with the on-ice series being a little one-sided in favor of the Bruins.
However, this is a different season, and the Leafs are a different team. They’re back in the playoffs for the first time since 2004, where hockey-crazed Toronto will no doubt be pumped up for postseason puck. The Leafs earned the right to be there as well, and the Bruins know they can’t take Toronto lightly, despite winning the season series 3-1.
“Yeah, we did [have success against Toronto], but it doesn’t matter in the end,” defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said following Sunday’s game. “Again, the playoffs are a new chapter. Everybody has the right to play for it. And again, everybody starts from zero. We’re going to have to take it as serious as ever and play our best hockey.”
Bruins coach Claude Julien was still trying to process and dissect the club’s game Sunday night before really setting his sights on Toronto and the series that will start Wednesday in Boston.
“Well, I mean, I just finished a game here against Ottawa, I don’t know that I spent a ton of time here thinking about the challenge,” Julien said. “I can probably give you a little bit more in the next few days. But right now, they’re a team that earned a spot in the playoffs because they play a real tough type of game and they grind it out; they’ve got toughness, they’ve got skill, they’ve got speed. They’ve got a mixture of everything, it’s a team that’s well-coached. Our games against them have been close this year, it’s going to be an interesting series.”
In addition to winning three of four against Toronto this season, the Bruins took care of the Leafs last season as well, winning all six meetings between the two teams. Again, things are different now, and there are going to be few arenas tougher to win in this spring than the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
“I already looked at my phone and had more text messages than usual,” Toronto-area native Tyler Seguin said. “Definitely the town is going to be excited but I think we will be as well.
“I think any time you’re in the playoffs the atmosphere is pretty great. I’m sure Toronto is going to be good as well. I guess I’ll turn my phone off for the playoffs. I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of storylines, so definitely excited to get started.”
The puck drops at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.