Bruins Looking To Blow Leafs Away Tonight
The Boston Bruins have put themselves in an excellent position for game 5 tonight at the TD Garden. After a big overtime win in Toronto, the B’s head home with a 3-1 series lead having won both games at the Air Canada Center. They have played much better than they have all season in this series, and look more like champions and less like the pitiful excuse for a hockey club we got down the stretch into the playoffs.
A big part of there turn-around is the ever reliable David Krejci in post season play. While Tim Thomas was shutting down every team the Bruins faced in the 2011 Stanley Cup Run, it was Krejci who was quietly leading the NHL in playoff points. While Timmy soaked up all the spotlight, Krejci put up 12 goals, 11 assists, and a +8 in all 25 of the B’s playoff games. He also added 4 game winners in that run, and a hat trick against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The hat trick from 2011 was important to bring up because he scored his second NHL playoff hat trick in game 4 against the Leafs. His performance as been incredibly valuable to the Bruins in the first round of the playoffs, and it is a big reason they lead Toronto 3-1 with a chance to win the series tonight on Garden ice. He is also leading the entire NHL in playoff scoring with 5 goals, 5 assists, and a +7 in 4 games.
Not to be overlooked in his performance Wednesday night is Zdeno Chara. Chara had a 4 assists playoff game which is a Bruins playoff record. That’s right, not even Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque, and Brad Park had more assists in a single playoff game. Big Z is also averaging a monstrous 27:30 minutes of ice time a game.
Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton continue to erase their roller coaster seasons with solid performances every night. Some credit does go to David Krejci here again, but we have seen a more aggressive Lucic, and another clutch showing from Horton. In fact, Horton already has 2 game winning goals against Toronto, which brings him to 5 in 25 career playoff games.
Tuukka Rask’s numbers may not show how outstanding he has been, but anyone who has watched him in this series will tell you. Rask has allowed 10 goals in the Bruins first 4 games against Toronto on 147 shots against. His save percentage is stellar at .932, but his goals against average is 2.39. I tend to place more emphasis in value on the save percentage in this situation though, given Rask had to face 45+ shots in both games in Toronto. Regardless of how you look at it, Rask has been good for the Bruins, and he has likely put to rest any concern for his playoff abilities.
All is not well in Toronto though, despite what was arguably their best game in game 4, they came away with an overtime loss. They will be up against it in a big way when they take the ice in Boston tonight. Its win or go home for the Leafs tonight, and they have to do it against a experienced Bruins team which has had their number for the better part of the last five seasons.
The Leafs have some major problems with their defensive unit. Four Toronto defensemen are the top four in playoff giveaways. If you don’t believe me see for yourself here. Cody Franson and Dion Phaneuf each have 11 giveaways, Mark Fraser has 10, and Jake Gardiner has 9. I can think of no better compliment to the Bruins fore-check than having their opponent’s top 4 defensemen all in the top 4 in giveaways for the playoffs.
Toronto also needs more from their secondary scorers like Mikhail Grabovski (1 goal and a -5 in 4 games), Nazem Kadri (1 assist in 4 games), Nikolai Kulemin (1 assist and a -5 in 4 games), and Tyler Bozak (1 assist in 4 games) if they hope to have a chance tonight. The Leafs also need James Reimer to steal tonight’s game if they hope to force a game 6 in Toronto. Reimer has been a bit of a let down in the post-season as his play during the regular season was a big part of the Leafs making the playoffs. His rebound control has been atrocious, and he currently has a below average .914 save percentage, and an abysmal 3.33 goals against average. Maybe the Leafs should have pulled the trigger on either Miikka Kiprusoff or Roberto Luongo at the trade deadline.
The TD Garden will definitely be rocking tonight as the Bruins will have a chance to eliminate the Toronto Maple Leafs in 5 games. The B’s and their fans would love nothing more than to end their division rivals hopes and dreams this season, while sending Phil Kessel packing. The Bruins are going to come out of the gate with everything they have against a Toronto team that will likely do the same. I would expect this game to be the game of the series as Toronto has some big time adversity to overcome if they want to take this one home. How much do you think it would crush Phil Kessel and Leafs fan’s spirits if Tyler Seguin scored the game winner tonight?
You can follow me on Twitter for all Bruins news and notes: @Mattjacob64