June 17, 2024

The Toronto Maple Leafs Continue to Be No Match For the Boston Bruins

What a difference a few days make. Before the start of this week, the hot Toronto Maple Leafs had visions of catching the Boston Bruins for second place in the Atlantic Division.

A strong showing in two games against the Bruins would bring the Toronto Maple Leafs closer to the possibility of home-ice advantage in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Circumstances seemed to favor the Leafs. Before facing the Bruins, the Leafs had won nine out of their last ten games. The slumping Bruins had only gathered 11 points over their previous ten games.

Alas, it was not meant to be. The Bruins dominated both games, coming away with two wins, by identical 4-1 scores in regulation time. With the wins, Boston has now won seven consecutive games against the Leafs.

The Toronto Maple Leafs Continue to Be No Match For the Boston Bruins

Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins

Adding to the Leafs misfortune is the fact that the Bruins are highly likely to be their first-round opponent. The losses have left the Leafs with lots of things to ponder between now and the playoffs.

At least in early-season losses to the Bruins, the Leafs were competitive, taking both games to extra time. Now, they have regressed.

Most concerning is that no matter the roster changes for either team, the Bruins treat the Leafs like their baby brother, keeping them at arm’s reach and toying with them.

On top of that, the Leafs don’t help themselves. They make inexcusable, infuriating mistakes that they should beyond making, especially against a quality opponent.

Unintelligent Hockey Remains an Issue For The Leafs

The Leafs forgot to pre-scout the Bruins and their top scorer, David Pastrnak. Pastrnak was a catalyst for their first victory with three assists. He scored the Bruins’ first goal (albeit during a 5 vs 3 power play) during the rematch.

Pastrnak didn’t have issues finding open ice and creating scoring chances for Boston. On the other hand, Auston Matthews, William Nylander, and Mitch Marner were mostly kept in check by the Bruins. They were pressured and given little room to operate. Something that, rest assured, will continue in the playoffs.

The first period of game two against the Bruins left much to be desired. The Leafs were being outplayed, but managed to keep the game scoreless until defenseman Jake McCabe unleashed a pair of crosschecks on the same stoppage of play.

While being physical with Leafs nemesis Brad Marchand is welcome, the inopportune timing put the Leafs down two players for a full two minutes. It eventually led to Pastrnak burying the Bruins’ first goal.

The next Leafs critical error came from Nylander. Early in the second period, as the last player back and with possession of the puck inside the Bruins’ blue line, Nylander made an extra move and lost the puck to Travis Frederic. The long breakaway resulted in a second goal for the Bruins.

For all his breathtaking skill plays, Nylander still makes too many untimely, awful mental errors. It was his second major mistake within a week.

After Marner brought the Leafs within a goal, late in the second period the team’s terrible penalty killing allowed a goal to put the Bruins up by two and essentially finish the game.

One Bright Spot For the Leafs, But Lots To Be Learned

The lone bright spot for the Toronto Maple Leafs was showing an element of team toughness.

Tyler Bertuzzi got the decision in a lively scrap. Max Domi stood up for his teammates, but small, moral victories count for little.

The Leafs have yet to show they are capable of slaying their playoff dragon. They have less than twenty games to figure it out.

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