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Sports Bruce Arthur: Leafs go missing in Game 1 loss to Bruins

06:57  13 april  2018
06:57  13 april  2018 Source:   thestar.com

Rick Nash returns to Bruins' lineup for Game 1 vs. Leafs

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By Bruce ArthurSports Columnist. Thu., April 12, 2018. The Bruins won 5- 1 , and deserved it. “They were more competitive than us at the start tonight,” Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. “ I thought we got the game going pretty good, but we didn’t have enough.”

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Leafs forward Tomas Plekanec can only hang his head after David Pastrnak gave the Bruins a 3-1 lead in the second period of Game 1 on Thursday.© Maddie Meyer Leafs forward Tomas Plekanec can only hang his head after David Pastrnak gave the Bruins a 3-1 lead in the second period of Game 1 on Thursday.

BOSTON—Welcome to the playoffs, kids. The Toronto Maple Leafs entered this post-season talking about a long run, even chasing the Cup. They really believe that. They have depth and speed, and young as they are, they thought this could be a special year.

And then the puck dropped in Game 1 against the Boston Bruins and it was a beating, if hardly a fight. The Bruins came out, as a Russian goalie once said, like gorillas out of a cage. They won every puck battle, erased open spaces, tried to both start and finish checks. Brad Marchand tried to kiss Leo Komarov in there somewhere, too. Mostly, the Leafs looked like accountants who had wandered into a biker bar at full brawl.

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If you want to give the Leafs some low-bar credit, they didn’t crumple after a horrendous start, but all that meant was that, at 5-on-5, the Bruins controlled two-thirds of the shot attempts through two periods, rather than all of them. Matters failed to improve in the third. The Bruins won 5-1, and deserved it.

“They were more competitive than us at the start tonight,” Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. “I thought we got the game going pretty good, but we didn’t have enough.”

There were moments. There were power plays, but they came up empty. Jake Gardiner hit a post. Mitch Marner slid a puck through the crease. The game calmed down at the end of the first, the start of the second. There were moments.

But that’s all they were. Every team has chances, moments. As Hainsey put it, “it felt like we spent vast majority of the game on our half of the ice. We weren’t able to get any long, sustained pushes in their end. When we made it 1-1, we played for the next six minutes maybe, going into the second period. And from then they cranked it up and we didn’t answer.”

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The Bruins ' season came to a close with a 3- 1 loss to the Lightning in Game 5 on Sunday in Tampa. Unlike in their first -round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs , where they were on the other end of a three games to one series lead, the Bruins dug themselves too big of a hole against

He’s the most polarizing Bruin , and for sure some people will blame Rask for the Game 6 loss . If there’s one area the Bruins and Leafs should feel confident going into Game 7, it’s their Tommy Wingels replaced Heinen in the lineup. But instead of notching bottom-six minutes, Bruce Cassidy

Toronto never looked this out of place in all of their series against Washington last year. The NHL’s system is an insecurity-based mess, and here that means pitting the fourth-best team in hockey against the seventh-best team. Still, as Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly put it before Game 1 began, “If we didn’t believe, we wouldn’t put the pressure on ourselves. I think we’re in a situation where we could put together some games here.”

Boston’s top line of Patrice Bergeron, Marchand and David Pastrnak was a circus show. At 5-on-5 with Bergeron on the ice, the Bruins controlled 82 per cent of all shot attempts. Marchand opened the scoring on a Bruins power play, streaking down the left side — and likely offside, though the Leafs didn’t challenge it — past the relatively stationary figures of Roman Polak on his side, and Ron Hainsey on the other.

And it was Marchand who, with Toronto’s fourth line on the ice, shook Rielly with a little shoulder wiggle at the end of the second period and found Pastrnak in the slot with 38 seconds left for a 3-1 lead. Asked why he nuzzled Komarov, Marchand said, “I’m not trying to get into his head; he kept coming after me after whistles, stuff like that, every time he was going to the bench. So I just thought if you keep touching me, it may go closer than he might want to.”

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Asked if the Leafs can do better against the best line in hockey, Hainsey said, “Better hope so.”

This was a bludgeoning, but at least now the Leafs know what kind of fight they’re in. You think you’re a special team? You think this will be a long series? Well, you have 48 hours, and here’s your chance. The Bruins had better special teams, and were a buzzsaw at 5-on-5. The fourth line got buried. Rielly and Hainsey got buried so far down they couldn’t breathe, and they got buried by everyone. Travis Dermott is a kid, but he might need more ice time than the war horses, fast.

Even the Auston Matthews line got beat up, primarily against the venerable Zdeno Chara and the wunderkind Charlie McAvoy, plus that top line. But it didn’t stop there, and the seams eventually burst. With the score 4-1 in the third Tommy Wingels, who ended the second period holding Mitch Marner in a headlock, elbowed Marner in the face along the boards and fell down. Nazem Kadri, who threw himself around with a recklessness all night, skated hard and hip-checked Wingels’s head into the board while Wingels was on his knees. Kadri said he wasn’t trying to hit Wingels while he was down; the replay makes it look like he stared him down the whole way.

A suspension is at least possible. Kadri had already boarded Wingels and hit Rick Nash knee-on-knee. He played too far over the line, while Marchand walked up the line and gave it a kiss. Kadri said “I don’t really think the score reflected how the game went. It was a lot closer than that.” Kadri is often honest and delightful, but he was far from reality on this night.

In the third, with the game out of reach, Boston fans chanted, “We Want The Cup, We Want The Cup.” One game into the playoffs, and it was like the Leafs weren’t even there.

Bruins' Rask: 'Probably could have stopped more pucks with my eyes closed' .
Tuukka Rask put on a performance Saturday that he'll want to forget. In Game 5 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Boston Bruins netminder allowed four goals on just 13 shots before getting the hook midway through the second period. The veteran blamed himself for the 4-3 loss that saw the Maple Leafs close in on the Bruins' 3-2 series lead."(I) probably could have stopped more pucks with my eyes closed," Rask told Amalie Benjamin of NHL.com. "It's on me."Backup Anton Khudobin came into the game in relief of Rask, turning aside eight shots, but the Bruins couldn't overcome the Maple Leafs' early lead.Game 6 goes Monday in Toronto.

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