Is this the season the Toronto Maple Leafs finally slay the Boston Bruins?
Former NHL goaltender Rick DiPietro predicted Monday that Toronto will outlast Boston in the Stanley Cup playoffs this season. The Bruins have eliminated the Maple Leafs from the playoffs three times this decade — in the first round in 2013, 2018 and 2019 — but DiPietro believes Toronto’s offseason roster moves will propel the club past Boston at long last.
“The Toronto Maple Leafs finally get past the Boston Bruins in the playoffs,” DiPietro wrote in response to ESPN.com’s request for a “bold prediction” for the 2019-20 NHL season. “They had their opportunity last year with a 3-2 series lead headed back to Toronto, but again came up short, losing the final two games of the series.
“The additions of Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci to go along with Morgan Rielly will help to shore up their defensive zone. Auston Matthews should flirt with 50 goals, while John Tavares and Mitch Marner will build off last year’s great regular seasons. All of this will get the Maple Leafs home ice advantage in the series and in the perfect situation to slay their postseason dragon.”
Home-ice advantage has been pivotal to the Bruins’ recent playoff success against the Maple Leafs, as Boston won the 2013, 2018 and 2019 series in seven games, with the decisive contest taking place at TD Garden each time.
Toronto will have to outperform Boston in the regular season to earn home-ice advantage in the playoffs. That will add importance to each regular-season game, particularly the four Bruins-Leafs matchups, the first of which will take place Oct. 19 and 22 at Scotiabank Arena and TD Garden, respectively.