Mar 22, 2013; Toronto, ON, Canada; Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara (33) shakes hands with Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf (3) after a ceremonial face-off with former player Mats Sundin (13) before the start of their game at the Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs beat the Bruins 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Bruins vs Toronto Maple Leafs. The road to the Cup starts now!

Very early this morning the Boston Bruins released the schedule for the first round in the Stanley Cup playoffs between the 4th seed Bruins and the 5th seed Toronto Maple Leafs. As the Bruins have the home ice advantage, the first two games, the fifth, and the seventh will be played at the TD Garden. The last time these two teams squared off was the 1974 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. (Which means recent acquisition Jaromir Jagr is the only active Bruin who was alive when that game was played, and he was still in diapers then.)

The overall record Boston has against Toronto in the post season is 31-30-1. The Toronto squad battled hard to get the fifth seed. The Bruins slowly slid down from the first overall position in the East, to the fourth their recent sub-par play has placed them in. It’s doubtful we’ll see a sweep from the Bruins.

So, what can we expect from this series? Let’s take a quick look at the matchups between the teams in the regular season. They played four games against each other, with the Bruins winning three of them.  On February 2, the first game lead to a 1-0 victory for the Black and Gold.  A month later, the Bruins added a 4-2 win in Boston.  Toronto got its only regular season win against on March 23rd, beating us 3-2 in Toronto.  Two days later, the Bruins achieved the same score in a win at home. Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand both earned four points and should be expected to lead the team in scoring (Bergeron) and chirping (Marchand).

Coach Claude Julien made it clear to the press last night that as of now the Boston Bruins’ record now stands at 0-0-0. “I think we’ve got to turn the page here on tonight’s game and what’s happened lately. All I know is that we’re starting a new season, sometime this week. We’ve earned a spot in the playoffs, which we should be proud of that. There’s a lot of teams right now that are doing something a lot different than what we’re doing, and we should be happy about that.”

A healthy slice of the current Bruins roster are from the Toronto area. For some of them, it will be a well anticipated homecoming. Seasoned veterans like Shawn Thornton, team regulars like Tyler Seguin, and rookie phenoms like Dougie Hamilton will get to play in front of people they grew up with, and played in pee wees on up with. “It’s always fun,” said Thornton of the first round “It’s two of the biggest hockey markets going at it. Maybe not as classic a rivalry as a Montreal-Boston, or Toronto-Montreal, I guess, but I think whenever you have two Original Six teams going at it – and [the Leafs] haven’t been in it for a while, so I know they’re going to be pretty jacked up, up there.”

The Leafs have had their fair share of defensive breakdowns and they’ve also been burdened with inconsistent goal tending.  While we’ve had our fair share of breakdowns ourselves, we haven’t been lacking in the crease, Tuukka Rask has had an amazing season against Toronto. Rask went 2-0-0 against Toronto. He has a 0.85 GAA and .958 save percentage and allowing only two goals on forty eight shots.  I think it’s safe to say we’ll probably see the ‘Flying Finn’ in games one and two in the Garden.

BRUINS UPCOMING SCHEDULE: (Taken from the Boston Bruins website)

Tuesday, April 30 (Boston, MA)

-Practice at TD Garden, 11:00 a.m. ET

Wednesday, May 1 (Boston, MA)

-Game 1 at TD Garden, 7:00 p.m. ET

Thursday, May 2 (Wilmington, MA)

-Practice at Ristuccia Arena, 11:00 a.m. ET

Friday, May 3 (Wilmington, MA)

-Practice at Ristuccia Arena, 10:30 a.m. ET

Saturday, May 4 (Boston, MA)

-Pregame skate at TD Garden, 10:30 a.m. ET

-Game 2 at TD Garden, 7:00 p.m. ET

Sunday, May 5

-Practice and media availability TBD

Monday, May 6 (Toronto, ON)

-Game 3 at Air Canada Centre, 7:00 p.m. ET

Tuesday, May 7 (Toronto, ON)

-Practice schedule TBD

Wednesday, May 8 (Toronto, ON/Boston, MA)

-Game 4 at Air Canada Centre, 7:00 p.m. ET

Thursday, May 9

-Practice schedule and media availability TBD

Friday, May 10 (Boston, MA)

-Game 5 at TD Garden, 7:00 p.m. ET, if necessary

Saturday, May 11

-Practice schedule TBD

Sunday, May 12 (Toronto, ON)

-Game 6 at Air Canada Centre, Time TBD, if necessary

Monday, May 13 (Boston, MA)

-Game 7 at TD Garden, Time TBD, if necessary

 

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