BOSTON — The first-round Stanley Cup playoff series between the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs has been very one-sided.
The Bruins lead the series 2-0 after a pair of convincing victories in Boston, including a 7-3 rout of Toronto on Saturday night.
Here are some takeaways from Boston’s statement win in Game 2:
Bruins are winning the goaltending matchup
Leafs netminder Frederik Andersen entered this series with stellar numbers against the Bruins in his career: a 10-1-0 record and a .935 save percentage. He’s been anything but stellar so far, giving up eight goals in less than four periods of action. Andersen didn’t make it out of the first period Saturday night after allowing four goals. Toronto hasn’t played great in front of him, but he needs to be much better for the Leafs to have any chance of winning this series.
Tuukka Rask, meanwhile, has played very well in the Boston net. There have been stretches, especially in the second and third periods of the first two games, where the B’s have been lazy defensively and given up quality scoring chances on the penalty kill. Rask has stepped up to the challenge, stopping 56 of 60 shots for a .933 save percentage.
“He’s been great for us,” Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron said of Rask. “He calms things down. He’s got that poise and he had to come out big – especially in the second (period). He had some really timely saves and yeah, I think he’s been playing great hockey, and we’re expecting that out of him and we’ve got to carry that over and keep playing good in front of him.”
Boston’s special teams continue to dominate
The Bruins scored two more power-play goals in Game 2, bringing their series total to five. Boston is 5-for-10 overall with the man advantage. The Leafs are just 1-for-7 on the power play after having the league’s second-best PP unit during the regular season. The Bruins are a much better 5-on-5 team than the Leafs, so it’s going to be near-impossible for Toronto to win this series if its special teams continue to play this poorly.
Where’s Auston Matthews?
The Leafs’ top center is one of the best young players in the NHL. He scored 40 goals as a rookie last season and tallied another 34 this campaign. Matthews even scored four goals in six games in the first round against the Washington Capitals last postseason. He’s been invisible in this series, though, with zero points through two games.
Patrice Bergeron and Boston’s top line has totally shut Matthews down. That said, Matthews thought his line was a bit better in Game 2.
“I thought we had plenty of chances, plenty of opportunities,” he said. “At times we really took the momentum on our side and we were really able to grind them down low in their zone and control the play. Definitely a lot better than it was the first game.”
He’s not wrong, but the bottom line is it’s going to be tough for the Leafs to get back into this series if he doesn’t start producing offensively. The Bruins’ top line dominating Matthews and the Leafs’ top line is not a winning strategy for Toronto.
Bruins are winning the puck battles in front of the net
The B’s are giving Leafs defensemen all sorts of trouble around the net and in the dirty areas.
David Backes scored a power-play goal after winning a net-front puck battle in Game 1, and Rick Nash did the same in Game 2.
“Well, we’re a determined group. We’ve got courage, for one. To go to the dirty areas, you need courage,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said.
“So, then you get people there, and then you need pucks to arrive there, so it becomes a mindset. You can have players go there all day, but if the pucks don’t arrive, it gets frustrating. So, that goes hand in hand. We believe that’s an area that we want to force them to defend.”
So far, the Leafs have defended it poorly, due to a lack of toughness and awareness.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports
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