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Leafs staring down a Boston freight train


yave1964

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  Aaaaand once again, the Leafs are looking at a first round matchup against the hated Boston Bruins.

,

 Anyone old enough to remember a generation ago when the Leafs under Dougie Gilmour and company perennially had good solid teams get wiped out over and over by the Senators in the early rounds of the playoffs? It seems it happened every year for a decade tho it probably was not quite that long. Boston, the new Ottawa.

 

  Some teams have other teams numbers, plain and simple. I remember my Wings a few years ago while fighting to remain viable kept running into Tampa and getting it handed to us, Pittsburgh has owned Bobrovsky (he finally beat them last night after losing to them an insane nine straight times).

 

 With the inevitable matchup coming the question is can Toronto Beat the big bad Bruins? I personally say yes, and I think they will this year but even if so the best team in Hockey in Tampa will be waiting. But I digress, a quick look at the Bruins/Leafs position by position.

 

GOALTENDING Rask is a damn fine tender but I give the slight edge to Andersen.

 

DEFENSE Boston maybe a slight edge but Chara is a few years away from getting an AArp card and Toronto has a very solid unit of their own.

 

CENTER with apologies to the best two way player in the game in Bergeron no team in Hockey can compete with Tavares, Matthews and Kadri down the middle. Not even close.

 

WINGERS Marner/Marchand cancel each other out the rest player for player are slight edges for the Leafs.

 

So goaltending centers and wings a clear advantage for Toronto, a slight edge for Boston.

 

On paper the Leafs are not only the better team but clearly better, the problem is they play on ice. Home ice may be the deciding factor.

 

 

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Freight train is absolutely right, @yave1964 … not only have the Bruins had the Leafs number, but they play a style that, when properly executed, tends to stifle offensive teams like Tampa Bay, Washington, and yes, Toronto.
Basically, the Bruins, while letting their guys play a bit more offensively than in recent years, play a playoff type of game almost all year round...and have the personnel up n down the lineup to do it too.

 

The Leafs are still a pretty good offensive bunch and their defense isn't gawd awful, but it is STILL pedestrian overall with in the league, and IMO, it is Frederik Andersen who sees to it that bad coverage doesn't get converted into goals.
Old guys like Ron Hainsey can thank Freddy A for their +/- stat being as sparkling as it is...make no mistake.

 

Position by position? I will take a stab at that...will agree with some, disagree with others (pretty much our relationship, Yave...a love/hate one..... TB vs Det even on the forums!   :bigteeth: )
Get your reading glasses, and a cushion for your backside.....this can be extensive... lol

 

GOALTENDING: I will call this one a draw. If you look at how both netminders have played (Rask v Andersen) one could easily point out that Andersen has been more of the workhorse, while Rask has been almost in a timeshare with Halak...plus, Andersen, due to the weaker Tor coverage, sees more shots and quality opportunities for the opposition, while Rask is more sheltered behind a better defensive structure and quality shots are more limited.

However, bottom line is, Rask DOES make big saves when needed, and while Boston is still a fine defensive team, they have some young guys on there who like to pinch in, and WILL leave openings that Rask has to account for when the other team comes storming his way.
Stat-wise, both Andersen and Rask are about equal, give or take in some areas going one way or the other, although I fully acknowledge Andersen being a bigger factor in keeping goals out due to his bigger "Minutes Played" indicator.

 

But can even Andersen withstand a relentless Boston counterattack when Bruins mostly more experienced players take advantage of the fine, yet less experienced Leaf players when those young forwards are forced to play in their own zone more often? Because that is likely the case in a playoff scenario. 
Rask would be used to close quarters combat if you will.... Andersen will need to prove he can do it in the playoffs.

Again....Draw for goalies.

 

DEFENSE: Bit of an edge to the Bruins here. Toronto has nice offensive type defensemen...but then, so do the Bruins with McAvoy and Krug. A guy like Chara is no longer the focus of the defense, yet Big Z can STILL play a good defensive game, and good luck to even the faster Leaf players trying to get around his slower, yet still wide reaching wing span.....and don't any Leaf players try taking runs at Boston players because Chara can still knock the holy $%#@ out of people on the ice... Giants, even old ones, tend to be able to do that for quite a long time after their primes, ya know!

 

On top of that, the entire Boston defensive units play a team defense game, something I think the Leafs still struggle with, AND Boston can usually count on many of their forwards to join in, back check, and generally help out the defense. No single Boston defender may be head n shoulders above any single Leafs defender...but as a whole unit, I rather like the Bruins D, especially in playoff situations, over an overall Leafs D.
Slight Edge... Bruins.

 

CENTERS: I agree with you here.... Toronto has some damned good players down the middle, and while I can dispute other teams having equally talented middle men down lines 1-3, we are talking just Boston here, and in that regard, I give the Leafs a nice edge here, top to bottom on Centermen.

Bergeron is certainly no slouch, and David Krejci still plays a good center game, but when you look over at John Tavares, Matthews, and even that cement head Kadri, there really is no contest as far as overall lines go.
Charlie Coyle has not really elevated Boston's 3C position, and has been mostly a non factor since coming over from Minnesota, and I honestly could not even tell you who Boston's regular 4C is (I honestly couldn't tell you Tor's either, but it doesn't matter... 1C-3C are damned good enough to offset whomever it is!)

Edge on Centerman…. Maple Leafs

 

WINGERS: Again, edge to the Leafs, maybe a bigger one than center, because Toronto DOES have guys they can plug in anywhere in the top 9 (and some of the 4th line wingers can be dangerous too) and still be effective.....a lot of it thanks to the solid, steady centermen they have.
I like many of Boston's wingers more for defensive purposes, and while that is fine, let's face it, the REAL purpose of dynamic wingers is to create, generate, and foster offense....and the Leafs' guys can do that in spades, while Boston's ability to do that is more limited to its top line, some from the second line (and this is if Jake Debrusk is playing).


Toronto just has that explosive ability up n down their wingers, lines 1-4 it seems like.
Winger edge? Toronto...easily.

 

So, just taking into account those categories....Toronto is up 2-1-1, right? They have this matchup, right?

Well, not so black n white.

PLAYOFF EXPERIENCE: Very important.
Boston's core, even though they may be older, still have this in buckets. They know how to win, they understand completely the pressure of playing and winning at the highest levels and on the biggest stage....This is something many of Toronto's younger players still need to experience and deal with.

Without mentioning and bringing in other teams, there are others throughout the league who have had to 'grow and learn' within this playoff process. Some damned good teams out there who have had to, as the old cliché goes, "Learn to win...then learn to win in the playoffs"
Some people think that the Leafs, because of the talent on the team, are somehow immune to this...they are NOT!

I'd put up Boston's playoff experience edge over Toronto's ANY DAY! 
This is where a Bergeron, a Krejci, a Marchand, a Chara, and even guys like Coyle and a Stempniak (if he is on the roster) come into play.
All those guys have been in the playoffs many times, faced down top teams, won many games against top teams (and lost big games too and learned from that), and that HAS to count in a head to head match up, against a formidable Leafs' attack, with many of its guys still in the learning stages of that part of the NHL grind game.....winning in the post season!

 

MENTAL EDGE: Plain in simple...the Bruins as an organization have handed it to the Leafs many times in the past. And even though some of the players change, the culture is still there....its why your Wings ALWAYS get up to play the Lightning...even in regular season. Because the culture of, "We gotta get those guys, because they got us many times already" is there.

Bruins know they have flattened the Leafs...even GOOD Leafs teams before...and some of the players who helped do that before are still playing in Boston.
They will play to that, they will go into every game expecting to come out with the win, while the Toronto players, for the most part, will likely be focused more on executing what always made them good....scoring goals...and hoping its enough to offset any other advantage the Bruins may have.

Boston players can go in, trusting their structure, experience, young talent, and history vs the Leafs, and have a bit more swagger to their game....ESPECIALLY if they have home ice, last change, and a Game 7 is played at TD as opposed to Ontario, Canada.

So...that brings the edge record to 3-2-1 in Boston's favor.
Sure, I added two more categories, but that's ok...I can do that if I want to. ;) 

 

So what I am saying is, I like Boston to come out of a match up with the Leafs.
Whether its freight train city, and the Bruins win it handily, or the Leafs show those "old guys" something about having youth and speed, and even ignorance to how things are supposed to be, and the series is more closely played......I think the Bruins still win it, even if it takes 6 or 7

 

All the while certain fans in a certain southern US state will gladly have two of their biggest rivals duke it out and wear each other down...and hopefully pick apart the leftovers... :rolleyes: )

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6 hours ago, yave1964 said:

Aaaaand once again, the Leafs are looking at a first round matchup against the hated Boston Bruins.

 

For me personally, I hate seeing the Bruins out of sheer boredom. I'm not surprised they're here. I knew they would be. Someone needs to run the numbers on that franchise because I think the Bruins make the playoffs more than any other NHL franchise. 

 

My analysis:

 

Toronto has the edge in forwards yes, but forwards always have a way of running cold in the playoffs.

 

Boston is the better defensive team. Boston is always the better defensive team in every year that they have existed in the NHL. Boston will always be the better defensive team. If someone reads this 50 years from now, Boston will be the better defensive team.

 

Goal-tending is a draw in this case, so any strategy that involves Andersen stopping a 2:1 ratio of shots while the Leafs out-score the opposition's weak goalie is a non-starter against Boston. 

 

Ultimately, it will come down to the intangibles. Boston's size and physical play will knock the Leafs around and frustrate them. Can the Leafs respond and show that they have what it takes to win when the whistles get put away?  That's the question. Boston is built for playoff hockey. The Leafs are built for regular season hockey. That's the difference.

 

Given that it's Boston in round one (the one team Toronto just mentally can't get by), I think it's over for the Leafs. 

 

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5 hours ago, TropicalFruitGirl26 said:

So...that brings the edge record to 3-2-1 in Boston's favor.
Sure, I added two more categories, but that's ok...I can do that if I want to. ;) 

 

You write some of the best posts in this forum!   Nicely done.  👍

 

I agree with your analysis. I think the Leafs are done here. Either team can win. I think it'll be a long series, but Boston is Toronto's kryptonite. 

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Might actually be a smart decision for Toronto to drop into the first wildcard position and face the Capitals...

 

.... but looking at how far down the Canadiens are, even that won't work. The Metro division has five teams in right now and Montreal is out.  

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