The Leafs enter the game winners of two straight against the Bruins. The two teams played three consecutive home and homes in early May of last season and split the series 3-3. The rivalry grew so intense that a large gathering of patrons took in the games from outside the ACC in Maple Leaf Square. The series ended with no decided winner.
The last time the Leafs were in the TD Garden, Tyler Bozak scored a short handed goal and Clarke MacArthur also scored on a partial breakway, dancing around Tuukka Rask in the third period. Neither will be on the ice tonight for Toronto from that May 10th win, which was definitely the last time these two teams played one another in Boston.
The Leafs enter the game having only allowed one goal against in each of their last two outings against the Bruins. James Reimer had the Bruins solved to the point where, if the home and home series last May had continued for one more leg, the Leafs definitely would have won the next game.
The Leafs carry a definitive psychological edge going into this game for that exact reason; the Bruins know the Leafs have their number, and while outplayed, the Leafs were opportunistic offensively and could baton down the hatches and secure the Ws.
Zdeno Chara was frightened enough by his repeated run ins with Colton Orr that he became unwilling to park himself in front of the net, not even in the dying minutes of the game with the result on the line. Similarly, Patrice Bergeron was showing a tendency to quit on his team late in games. He was shut down to the point where one could reasonably suggest the “clutch” plaudits he often receives are overstated nonsense.
If the Leafs can keep doing all the things that saw them find success against the Bruins last May, tonight should just be the next step in imposing their dominance over a long time division rival.