3 questions going into Bruins' first-round matchup with the Maple Leafs

In the first round of the playoffs, Boston is matched up with Toronto. Here's three questions going into it.
Boston Bruins v Montreal Canadiens
Boston Bruins v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit

Going into the Saturday's game one of their first round matchup with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Boston Bruins come in on a bit of a slide after only taking victories in two of their last five games.

After being bounced in the first round of the playoffs in 2023 in a seven-game series by the Florida Panthers that went all seven games after winning the President's Trophy, it's definitely worthy of taking a second look at this series.

Bruins fans are hoping for a better result than 2023, and are hoping their team can make it to the second round for the first time since 2021 when they lost in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals to the New York Islanders. Here's what you should keep an eye on as Boston eyes the prize.

Will the Bruins keep the goaltending tandem or break from it (again)?

In 2023, the Bruins played the whole season with the goaltending tandem of Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark manning the space between the pipes. Then, out of nowhere, head coach Jim Montgomery went into the playoffs and changed things up.

Instead of riding the goaltending tandem that he had rolled out all season, that gave Boston all its success, Montgomery played Ullmark for the first six games. This is something to keep an eye on going into this series.

Throughout the 2023-24 season, Montgomery has, again, rolled out the tandem and they have had success. Not as much success as the previous year, but still enough to say that the Bruins should think twice before rolling out just one goalie in the playoffs. Keep an eye on the goaltending situation and to see how Montgomery wants to play it.

Can Boston contain Toronto's scoring prowess?

On the season, Boston has played well when facing Toronto - with the Bruins defeating the Maple Leafs each time they faced them this season. Albeit, the first two times the Original Six foes faced each other this year it took a shootout and overtime, respectively, for Boston to pull out the victory, but the Bruins still pulled out the victory.

During the regular season, they outscored Toronto 15-7 during the four matchups, but it is important to note that the Maple Leafs were the top-scoring offense in the NHL with 298 goals prior to the postseason (3.63 per game). The Bruins, however, only scored 263 (3.21 per game) and will need to contain Toronto's high-flying attack.

They did a good job of it during the regular season, but when the playoffs roll around those numbers go out the window. Partially because it means more to each team, but also because both teams have more video to look at and really figure out what was exploited, and what can be exploited.

Can the Bruins stay healthy?

Throughout the season, it's no secret that the Bruins have had trouble with key players staying healthy ranging anywhere from Ullmark going down with an injury, all the way to Hampus Lindholm missing time.

It goes without saying, but the key to making a long run in the playoffs is keeping players healthy. The good news for Boston is that, with key trade deadline aquisitions like Patrick Maroon and Andrew Peeke, they now have depth at the forward and defense positions going into the postseason.

Not that anyone wants to lose anyone going into postseason play, but it is definitely worth noting that they are in good shape at both positions were anyone to go down. Now Maroon and Peeke are not the premiere players, Bruins' fans were looking to acquire at the deadline, but they should fit the mold should Boston need an extra body in the playoffs.

How will the series go (prediction time!!)?

The Bruins have not had a good history in the playoffs recently, having not won a Stanley Cup since 2011 and not making to the finals since 2019 where they lost to the St. Louis Blues in seven games, the seven in Boston.

However, this time they have gotten a more favorable matchup in the Maple Leafs. The last time these two met in the playoffs was in 2019, where Boston emerged victorious after seven games - splitting the first four in the process.

My prediction, this year, is that it will be no different. Toronto is not a very sound playoff team, and is prone to running out of gas once the playoffs start.

Prediction: Bruins win series 4-3