Boston Bruins vs. Toronto Maple Leafs was billed as the most evenly matched first-round Stanley Cup playoff matchup, so in some ways, it’s fitting a Game 7 will decide which team advances.
The Leafs survived Monday night at Air Canada Centre with a 3-1 win in Game 6, and now they must go back to Boston and try to beat the Bruins at TD Garden for the second time this series.
Here are some takeaways from Game 6.
Bruins Need to Hit the Net On More Shots
The Bruins have dominated puck possession for most of this series, and that’s been evident in their overwhelming shot attempt totals. But over the last two games, the B’s have not put enough of these attempts on net.
Boston tallied 45 shots on goal in Game 5, which sounds like a lot, but not when you consider the B’s attempted 90 shots. In Game 6, just 33 of their 72 attempted shots hit the target. Less than half of Boston’s shot attempts are getting through to Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen.
The Bruins must create more traffic in front of the net and be a little quicker with their passes so the Leafs aren’t able to block a ton of these attempts. Crashing the net and being hard on rebounds also would make Andersen a little less comfortable.
Bruins Need 5-on-5 Scoring From Veteran Forwards
Rick Nash, David Backes, Riley Nash, Tommy Wingels, Tim Schaller and David Krejci have a combined one goal during 5-on-5 play in this series (Krejci in Game 2). Nash and Backes have found the back of the net on the power play, but you cannot expect either team to have many power plays in a Game 7.
These six forwards tallied a total of just nine shots on goal in Game 6. None of them scored, although Krejci did pick up the primary assist on Jake DeBrusk’s first-period goal.
The B’s have a lot of rookies and other young players with no Game 7 experience, so they’ll need the veterans to step up and take charge offensively Wednesday night.
It’s also worth mentioning that Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand have combined to score one goal in the last three games after dominating the Leafs in the first two contests. Bergeron and Marchand, two of the NHL’s most clutch players, will need to be more productive offensively for the B’s to have the best possible chance of winning Game 7.
Bruins Must Slow Down Mitch Marner
Marner was held scoreless in the series opener, but he’s tallied at least one point in each of the last five games, and a total of eight (two goals, six assists) overall in the series. He scored a goal and added an assist in Game 6, increasing his impressive scoring totals against the Bruins this season.
The Bruins get the last line change as the home team in Game 7. They should match up Marner’s line with their top pairing of Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy. The Leafs’ second line of Patrick Marleau, Tomas Plekanec and Marner has been their best trio over the last four games, tallying five goals and creating lots of scoring chances.
Thumbnail photo via John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY Sports