Springtime Is Coming: Leafs Getting Ready

There are some things in life that are constant, in that no matter what you do you can’t avoid them. Much like the swallows returning to Capistrano every year, some things (like Thanos) are inevitable events: you can’t avoid death or taxes and the Leafs can’t seem to avoid losing to the Bruins in the spring. This year seems to be shaping up no differently as the Bruins get the W in OT tonight in the last of 4 regular season meetings in this Original Six matchup.

This game had the feel of a playoff game, something the Bruins last few games were sorely missing. It’s amazing the change in vibe when the B’s are facing off against a legitimate playoff team (to clarify: “a first round exiting playoff team”). Playing without David Krejci (and still no Taylor Hall and Nick Foligno) the B’s juggled some things up front. Patrice Bergeron centered Jake DeBrusk and Brad Marchand while Pavel Zacha slid to the pivot between Tyler Bertuzzi and David Pastrnak. Charlie Coyle had Garnet Hathaway and Trent Frederic on his wings while Tomas Nosek centered AJ Greer and Oskar Steen on the 4th line. In net it was Jeremy Swayman to face off against Ilya Samsonov who was in between the pipes for TOR.

The Bruins pushed the pace and racked up the zone time, as the Leafs looked a step slower than the B’s in the opening frame. Both goalies were dialed in from the opening draw and the sides skated to gooses for the opening twenty, with the Bruins having an edge in scoring chances. As the period progressed, the physicality ramped up as both teams were not passing up any chance to play the body. AJ Greer took exception to Sam Lafferty’s hit on Matt Grzelcyk and offered up a tilt which Lafferty accepted. Explain to me how that’s an instigator call on Greer?

In the middle stanza the Leafs showed how they are the NHL’s best 2nd period team where they dictated the pace and kept the Bruins hemmed in for long stretches. Just before the midway point, the Leafs got on the board when Lafferty tucked home a sweet feed from Zach Aston-Reese at Swayman’s left post. This play was poor all around: from the Pastrnak defensive turnover to Aston-Reese having too much time on the wall to Lafferty unmolested in the blue paint – yuck.

That score held until about 8 minutes left in the 3rd when Brandon Carlo used every little bit of his 6’6″ frame to keep the puck in the TOR zone and find Coyle circling up high in the slot. Coyle gathered in the feed from Carlo and skated to the inside of the LW circle before blowing a wrister past Samsonov’s glove far side. Tie game. Great patience by Coyle on this one allowing Steen time to get to the front of the net.

The teams headed to OT and the Bruins were awarded a call to set up 4:3 in the extra hockey time. During the B’s power play, Zacha got called for gloving the puck during a face-off (an automatic 2 mins) but the replay clearly showed it wasn’t Zacha, but the TOR player that attempted to move the puck with his glove. In a truly shocking turn of events, the on-ice officials huddled up (with Bergeron barking at them from 10ft away) and got the call right. Zacha exited the box and the Bruins resumed their power play. The calls were a little inconsistent tonight (the phantom hook that was called on Charlie McAvoy, but as Homeboy Jack said during the NESN feed – of course he got called, it was on Austin Matthews), but Stripes got it right when it mattered most. Dmitry Orlov and Pastrnak played catch up high in the diamond formation until Pasta blew a one-timer over Samsonov’s shoulder far side for his 57th of the year.

The Bruins currently sit at 61 wins on the season with 4 games left. They are one win away from tying the NHL record for most wins in a season and 2 wins away from setting a new NHL record. Up next the B’s welcome in the NJD on Saturday and then head to PHI for an early evening match on Sunday. Then it’s back home on Tue to welcome in WAS before heading to MTL for the last game of the regular season next Thursday.

We are on the precipice of the playoffs people: plan accordingly!

Keep an eye out for our playoff preview podcast which will drop in between the end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs. Here’s the link for our latest episode for your listening pleasure, but if you’d rather watch myself and Ked (and why wouldn’t you), here’s the link for the YouTube version.

In the meantime…..

You can read more about Brownie in his bio down below or follow him on Twitter @Abrow28

Author: Brownie

A legacy that was born on the frozen rivers in Northern Saskatchewan then forged on the ponds of New England. Plays with the heart of a warrior and the soul of a poet; always living by the credo handed down by generations of beer-league beauties that came before him. Skate Hard - Quick Changes - Win the Parking Lot.

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