The Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs have a deep-rooted history in the postseason.

The two Original Six franchises have split the 16 times they’ve battled in the Stanley Cup playoffs and will meet again this season in the first round.

Even though the Bruins swept the four-game regular-season series against the Maple Leafs, Boston general manager Don Sweeney knows the postseason is a clean slate for both teams.

“Offensively, they’re a gifted hockey club,” Sweeney told reporters following Bruins practice at Warrior Ice Arena on Thursday, per the team. “They present a lot of challenges down around the net front area, and we’re going to have to be really sharp there. We’re a pretty good team defensively when we stick to what our principles are, so I expect it to be a tight series overall.”

Story continues below advertisement

Special teams will certainly factor into the series. Toronto’s power play ranks seventh in the league at 23.9%, but their penalty kill is 23rd out of 32 teams at 76.9%. Boston’s power play has struggled as of late, tallying just three goals on its last 27 opportunities. The Bruins’ penalty kill is once again a strong area for the club at 82.5%.

“Obviously, their power play is really good, our penalty killing has been pretty consistent throughout the year, our power play needs to come back online here,” Sweeney said. “Fortunately, we scored a goal the other night to hopefully give the guys a little bit of confidence. It’s going to be a really good challenge on all levels. A good hockey club, a good opponent. If you’ve made it to the playoffs, you’ve earned a right here, and Toronto will present a really good challenge.”

    What do you think?  Leave a comment.

The Bruins have become known as a team that battles for inside ice and a net-front presence throughout their 100 years in the NHL, and as the years have gone by, it’s become more difficult to attain.

“I would say there’s probably less cross-checking and stuff that you’ll get away with in this day and age,” Sweeney said. “It’s still there, but I think the league has more movement in the offensive zone to incorporate offense as a five-man unit. Guys will come in and out of that space as opposed to just parking themselves there and working the back of the net and such. I just think there’s so much more movement…adaptation of systems that teams play also probably predicate more movement.

Story continues below advertisement

“In every different lineup, there’s defensemen that sometimes look like forwards at times, going into space and such. I think the movement part of it has certainly adapted at the league-wide level, but inside ice is earned, and it gets tighter and tighter as the playoffs go along.”

Establishing inside ice and having a net-front presence is a focal point for the Bruins, not just in the postseason but also throughout the 82-game regular season.

“Oh it was absolutely talked about,” Sweeney said. “…An establishment in terms of knowing that you’re going up against guys that… you’re just going to have to win that battle. That ice has to be yours.  I don’t think that’s ever changed. It still comes down to one-on-one battles and confrontational hockey. In the playoffs, you realize that — in the first round in particular — physicality probably triples. Ice is earned, interior ice is earned because it’s valued.”

The Bruins will host the Maple Leafs on Saturday night. Puck drop from TD Garden is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET, and you can watch the game on NESN, following an hour of pregame coverage.

Story continues below advertisement

Featured image via Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports Images