Your Boston Bruins traveled North of the border for a Hockey Night in Canada showdown with the Toronto Maple Leafs. As this is NOT a playoff game, the B’s fell to the Leafs by a score of 5-2 in front of a sold out crowd at the Scotiabank Arena. Since this is only 1 of 3 matchups against the Leafs this season, the Bruins will have to wait until March (which makes sense to no one except the NHL schedule makers) to exact their revenge for this one.
The lineup remained the same as the one that Bruce Cassidy submitted against Detroit but it was Linus Ullmark in the net for the B’s facing Jack Campbell for the Leafs. Taylor Hall (rocking the A tonight) got the B’s on board during a first period power play when he got a stick on Patrice Bergeron’s one timer from the high slot. David Pastrnak kept the puck alive on the left wing boards and he got the puck out to Charlie McAvoy at the blue line. McAvoy fed Brad Marchand above the RW dot where he bunted the puck back to Bergy.
Drive – Tip – Early Lead. Just like we drew it up.
The highlight of the first period (and it turned out, the game) was the save that Bergy got behind Ullmark earlier in the first. Ullmark dove across the net mouth from left to right in an attempt to corral Morgan Reilly’s shot from the LW dot. Ullmark missed the puck, but Bergy was in the net behind him to make the save off his chest.
In all seriousness Dear Reader I ask you, is there anything that this man can’t do on the ice? The answer is no there is not, he can do it all.
A wonky play that once again, I could see clearly from my couch put the Leafs on the board when John Tavares slid a rebound of a Mitch Marner drive into a net that was off it’s mooring. Now Tavares didn’t knock the net off it’s moorings on his own, Bergy drove him into it, so I’m not arguing that. And I’m not arguing that Alexander Kerfoot’s blade on Ullmark’s leg prevented him from sliding across the crease: Although it clearly did prevent him from playing the puck and it should have nullified the goal, but that IS NOT my argument. My argument is that the puck was off it’s mooring before the puck was even shot, so in no way should this goal have been awarded. Nothing like playing the Leafs 7 on 5, that usually only happens in Montreal. Of course the pro-Toronto media isn’t making the view they showed on the NESN feed available to the masses, but trust me this goal was no good.
For good portions of the opening frame the Bruins were passive in the neutral zone and kept backing off their own blue line giving Toronto easy entry with speed. Not a good recipe against a team that doesn’t like playing in their own end and unfortunately, that play only continued in the second. With about 5 minutes left in the period Austin Matthews put the Leafs up when he finished off a 2 on 1 with Mitch Marner that inexplicably left Matthews alone walking in from the high slot. Ullmark made the original save, but Matthews tucked his own rebound under the crossbar. Less than 4 minutes later the Leafs were back on the PP thanks to another
bullshit questionable call that put the Leafs on the PP. Marchand and Timothy Lilijegren got into an extended jousting match that somehow only found Marchy headed to the box. It was so apparent that it should have been matching penalties that the squid Lilijegren even went to the box on his own only to be waved out by the Toronto fan referee. Of course on the ensuing man advantage Matthews uncorks a clapper from the RW dot and it’s the Leafs up by a pair heading into the final frame.
The score may not reflect it, but Ullmark was the Bruins best player in the second period. He made multiple saves on odd man rushes and completely robbed John Tavares at the 8:00 minute mark to keep the Bruins in this one. Even with the PPGs, the Bruins were only down by 2 in what could have been a very lopsided game if not for the play of Ullmark. Again, the pro-Toronto media has scrubbed the internet of the video of this save, but trust me it was sick.
The Bruins got a power play back early in the third, my theory is the lengthy, “animated” talk Bruce Cassidy had with the refs after the 2nd period is what got this one for the black and gold. Coaching does matters kids. Unfortunately, it was all for naught as this was the most feeble power play in recent memory. The Bruins couldn’t gain entry, and when they did, they coughed up the puck for the easy clear. To make matters worse, pajama boy Tavares tucked one under Ullmark’s leg in the vulnerable minute following the Bruins PP. Mike Reilly had positioning on him, but Tavares was too big in the slot and boxed Reilly out to put the Leafs up by 3 with 12 minutes left to play.
The Bruins FINALLY started to wake up and hunt the puck with time winding down. Bergy swiped the puck on the back check (of course he did) and sent Pasta back the other way with Marchand trailing. Pastrnak gained the blue line and dropped the puck to Marchy who cut back up ice against the flow to gain space and found Pasta at the LW dot for a one timer and the Bruins were only down by a pair. The Marchand cutback was very reminiscent of one of David Krejci’s “master of time and space” type moves. Subtle and effective; in the “eddy of the flow” as Homeboy Jack likes to say.
The Bruins were on it now, closing gaps and stepping up in the neutral zone. For the first time all game they were winning puck battles and foot races. The puck was finding them and they were dominating play. Ullmark was pulled with a little over 2 minutes left and could Toronto screw up another lead like they’ve done in the past so many times? Was it going to happen again?? My bad it’s the regular season. Toronto doesn’t choke these leads away until the games really count. Marner with the ENG and the Leafs get the W.
No rest for the weary as the Bruins look to bounce back at home this week as the Canadian portion of their schedule rolls into town. They host the Senators (and new captain Brady Tkachuk) on Tuesday and Connor McDavid and the Oilers on Thursday.
- Linus Ullmark was solid and kept the Bruins in this one. He had no chance on the PPG and was the best player on the ice for long stretches. The Bruins had so much trouble clearing the puck, that he started to look for outlets himself in the 2nd and 3rd periods.
- Jake DeBrusk had his skating legs tonight. There was a sequence in the first period where he blocked a shot in the B’s zone and bundled the puck out in front of him through the neutral where he beat Marner in on a breakaway attempt. Campbell made the save, but DeBrusk hustled back on the back check and broke up the play as the Leafs were heading into the Bruins zone. Give me this all day Jake.
- The Bruins 4th line were out on the ice multiple times against the top line of the Leafs. Toronto had the last change as the home team and tried to take advantage, but you know what? The Bruins 4th line of Karson Khulman, Tomas Nosek and Trent Frederic kept the Leafs big boys on the perimeter and generated chances of their own. It was a great showing by them and they kept the top line off the scoresheet at even strength.
- The Bruins couldn’t clear the puck and it cost them multiple times.
- The Bruins couldn’t gain the zone cleanly. They were having trouble getting set up consistently and had too many one and done type offensive zone trips.
- The surrendered the neutral zone and backed way off the blue line. I’m assuming it was a strategy to keep the Leafs players on the perimeter, but it didn’t work and led to too many chances in the Bruins zone.
- With Nick Foligno on the IR, we didn’t get to see out “Loser Leaves Town” tilt between Foligno and Nick Ritchie. Since Ritchie apparently was out there, he keeps the title of Big DIck Nick… for now.
- Homeboy Jack with the sick burn regarding Ondrej Kase: “He had more concussions than points during his time with the Bruins” Jeez Jack, that’s rough. True, but rough.