Bruins Struggle Against the Leafs

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Oct 25, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs center

Tyler Bozak

(42) controls the puck as Boston Bruins defenseman

Dennis Seidenberg

(44) puts pressure on him at Air Canada Centre. The Bruins beat the Maple Leafs 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The big question heading into tonight’s match up was who would be in net for the Bruins.  As they took to the ice for the pre-game warm-ups, Tuukka Rask led the team giving the clear indicator. It would be him against James Reimer who until tonight held a 1-3-0 record when facing the B’s.

The game plan for Boston was to come out of the locker room ready to play and take advantage of the aforementioned slow start of the Toronto Maple Leafs.  Unfortunately, the Leafs came out hot and managed to get an opportunity on the first shift, making Tuukka sprawl for the save. A few minutes later at the 6:46 mark, Zach Trotman would have trouble holding the puck along the boards allowing Phil Kessel to blow by him for a goal-scoring opportunity, one that would beat Rask and put the Leafs up 1-0. The Leafs maintained possession for the majority of the first period, ending the first with 12 shots on net to the Bruins 8.

Unfortunately for Boston Kessel once again was ready to hustle as he and Bozak teamed up right off the face off and brought the puck right through the offensive zone, past the defense and past Tuukka for Kessel’s second goal of the night. It took all of 18 seconds for Kessel to undress the Bruins and get them rattled as just 1:06 later Holland and Morgan Rielly made Rask look like a beginner, scoring the Leafs third goal of the game.

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While the Bruins are generally praised for their balanced attack, they struggled getting momentum going in their favor. As Seth Griffith attempted to get something going for the Bruins, he wound up in the penalty box instead for a tripping call. A call that came at a horrible time for an already struggling team. 1:12 into the power play, Tyler Bozak was able to put the Leafs up 4-0, ending Tuukka’s night in net.

With the insertion of Svedberg the Bruins seemed to gain some confidence as he made some quick saves right off the back, but still found themselves in a deep hole that didn’t get better quick. With 11:30 left in the middle frame Dougie Hamilton found himself in the box for a holding penalty. As the Leafs rotated the puck around the offensive zone and held composure, they were able to score their fifth goal of the night and second power play goal of the game as James Van Riemsdyk got a re-direct in front.

For a team that has been priding themselves in how they have been performing with out their captain, they were apparently overdue for their breaking point as they dropped 5-0 by the halfway mark of the game and their luck kept getting worse. As Reilly Smith and Carl Soderberg tried to team up for a point to inch the Bruins back and put them into the game, the refs blew the whistle and called a no-goal. As Carl neared Bernier’s crease, he was tripped up by the Leafs defensemen and thus tripped up Bernier. Due to the interference, the goal that ensued was ruled no-good, despite Bernier being able to get a piece of the puck and being able to attempt a play off of it.

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  • When a team goes down 5-0 by the halfway mark, changes need to be made and fast. First; netminding, second; lines. As a combination of Milan Lucic, Simon Gagne and Patrice Bergeron took the ice, momentum began to build. The Bruins got some good puck movement flowing, Dennis Seidenberg took a blast from the blue line with a rushing Simon Gagne. The rush was enough traffic in front of Bernier to get the puck by and light the lamp to finally put the Bruins on the board with 5:45 remaining.

    Being down 5-1 heading into the final frame isn’t an ideal place to be and the Bruins knew they had to bear down and play some serious hockey to stand a chance at any sort of come back.  As the second period experiment with the lines seemed to generate some opportunities, Claude kept it going into the third. The new lines:

    Lucic-Bergeron-Gagne

    Smith-Soderberg-Eriksson

    Fraser-Campbell-Paille

    Marchand-Kelly-Griffith

    Seth Griffith and Chris Kelly gave the Bruins their first good opportunity of the period at the 4:55 marker of the final frame as Griffith handled the puck near the right circle and had Kelly surging to the net. As Daniel Paille attempted a breakaway after battling against SMith, he got his stick a little too high and the play was whistled dead as he landed himself in the box for high-sticking. Naturally, the Leafs took advantage of the situation.

    Peter Holland used his speed and powered through the neutral zone and raced past Eriksson to put the first power play goal shot on net, a shot that would go past Svedberg, putting Toronto 3-for-3 on the power play on the night. By some stroke of luck the Bruins were able to go on their own man-advantage as the Leafs sat for a delay of game call. However, they were unable to get anything generated with the special units and kept trying to claw back at the 6-1 deficit but to no avail.

    The energy was seemingly non-existent for the Bruins tonight as they appeared battered, bruised and distraught. While it’s nice to have the demise come against the Leafs instead of the Canadiens, no one likes to lose, especially to a team that they embarrassed at the end of October. However, the silver lining is that the Bruins can redeem themselves tomorrow night as they take on their lifetime rival, Montreal Canadiens. They will need to bring hunger, drive, determination and play with integrity and a willingness to get gritty in order to stand a chance of winning against a physical and challenging Montreal team.