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LGD: Leafs vs. Bruins Again

It’s been a long four nights without Leafs. I’ve taken the time to rewatch some Game of Thrones, spend a bit of time with my kids, generally take care of business. Now the time for family and responsibilities is over…

IT’S PLAYOFF HOCKEY TIME, BABY!!!

Before we get into talking Bruins and Leafs I think it’s important to take a moment to laugh at the fans of the Oilers, Senators, Habs, Canucks, and then laugh at Oilers fans again. What a fun ride it has been watching your teams suck, and as much as I’m looking forward to the playoffs, I’m equally looking forward to watching all of these teams fail miserably again next season. Godspeed.

Onwards to the Bruins. Hoooooooooo Doggy. Is there anything that needs to be said about a Bruins and Leafs matchup? I mean we should probably say something, but I think it’s safe to say we’ve all noticed how the Bruins seem to have the Leafs number. We’ve all noticed how the Bruins have no trouble dragging the Leafs into playing a style of hockey they weren’t built for. And we’ve all noticed how much toilet water Brad Marchand drinks on a daily basis.

Winning this series would mean a lot, but it probably couldn’t be more difficult, especially for a Leafs team that insisted on phoning it in for the back half of the season. (All is forgiven if you win tonight.)

Lineups

LW C RW Forwards
Zach Hyman
ZACH HYMAN

Rating: 74.6#38 LW

John Tavares
JOHN TAVARES

Rating: 82.9#9 C

Mitch Marner
MITCH MARNER

Rating: 78.7#16 RW

FL1 Rating
Rating: 78.71#16 FL1
Andreas Johnsson
ANDREAS JOHNSSON

Rating: 74.5#43 LW

Auston Matthews
AUSTON MATTHEWS

Rating: 83.2#7 C

Kasperi Kapanen
KASPERI KAPANEN

Rating: 73.3#56 RW

FL2 Rating
Rating: 77.01#6 FL2
Patrick Marleau
PATRICK MARLEAU

Rating: 72.2#76 LW

Nazem Kadri
NAZEM KADRI

Rating: 77.4#30 C

William Nylander
WILLIAM NYLANDER

Rating: 75.3#37 RW

FL3 Rating
Rating: 74.95#1 FL3
Trevor Moore
TREVOR MOORE

Rating: 72.0#81 LW

Frederik Gauthier
FREDERIK GAUTHIER

Rating: 68.9#184 C

Connor Brown
CONNOR BROWN

Rating: 71.4#88 RW

FL4 Rating
Rating: 70.78#18 FL4
DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS Defense
Morgan Rielly
MORGAN RIELLY

Rating: 79.1#6 LD

Ron Hainsey
RON HAINSEY

Rating: 73.2#53 RD

DL1 Rating
Rating: 76.14#14 DL1
Jake Muzzin
JAKE MUZZIN

Rating: 76.7#18 LD

Nikita Zaitsev
NIKITA ZAITSEV

Rating: 71.4#79 RD

DL2 Rating
Rating: 74.04#15 DL2
Jake Gardiner
JAKE GARDINER

Rating: 77.0#16 LD

Travis Dermott
TRAVIS DERMOTT

Rating: 73.9#41 RD

DL3 Rating
Rating: 75.45#2 DL3

The Leafs 4th line is decidedly built for Bruins hockey, and that worries me a little since Tyler Ennis and Nic Petan could have a lot of fun against the Bruins bottom pairing. We’ve got a healthy Leafs blueline again, but that isn’t much comfort when a healthy defense includes Ron Hainsey and Nikita Zaitsev. Still, the Leafs are back to having one competent blueliner on the ice at all times and that’s a step in the right direction.

I am willing to listen to all complaints about Marleau playing too high in the lineup, and Nylander playing too low, but I have personally decided to shut up about all things lineup until after Game One. If it works, I was wrong, if it doesn’t I hope we’ll see some changes because the Leafs have too much talent to be stagnant.

LW C RW Forwards
Brad Marchand
BRAD MARCHAND

Rating: 86.7#1 LW

Patrice Bergeron
PATRICE BERGERON

Rating: 86.3#2 C

David Pastrnak
DAVID PASTRNAK

Rating: 85.6#3 RW

FL1 Rating
Rating: 86.19#1 FL1
Jake DeBrusk
JAKE DEBRUSK

Rating: 78.7#15 LW

David Krejci
DAVID KREJCI

Rating: 78.4#26 C

Karson Kuhlman
KARSON KUHLMAN
FL2 Rating
Rating: 78.53#2 FL2
Marcus Johansson
MARCUS JOHANSSON

Rating: 74.0#65 LW

Charlie Coyle
CHARLIE COYLE

Rating: 72.0#107 C

Danton Heinen
DANTON HEINEN

Rating: 73.2#60 RW

FL3 Rating
Rating: 73.04#12 FL3
Joakim Nordstrom
JOAKIM NORDSTROM

Rating: 70.5#113 LW

Noel Acciari
NOEL ACCIARI

Rating: 70.7#147 C

Chris Wagner
CHRIS WAGNER

Rating: 69.9#116 RW

FL4 Rating
Rating: 70.37#26 FL4
DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS Defense
Zdeno Chara
ZDENO CHARA

Rating: 75.8#22 LD

Charlie McAvoy
CHARLIE MCAVOY

Rating: 78.2#18 RD

DL1 Rating
Rating: 76.99#12 DL1
Torey Krug
TOREY KRUG

Rating: 82.0#2 LD

Brandon Carlo
BRANDON CARLO

Rating: 73.4#49 RD

DL2 Rating
Rating: 77.73#3 DL2
Matt Grzelcyk
MATT GRZELCYK

Rating: 73.0#59 LD

Connor Clifton
CONNOR CLIFTON

Rating: 73.3#51 RD

DL3 Rating
Rating: 73.15#6 DL3

That top line will always be scary, so let’s focus on the 3rd and 4th lines, as well as the bottom pairing. There is definitely hope for the Leafs being able to exploit that defense especially. The matchup always seems pretty even better these two teams, and it hasn’t really changed this year.

Goaltenders

Freddie Andersen is the last best hope for the Leafs. His track record against Boston over his career remains strong, but this season his save percentage has taken a nose dive against the Bruins, and he put up a .882 save percentage this season after his underwhelming playoffs last year. Toss in the fact that he’s been struggling of late and it really makes you wish that the Leafs had an option that wasn’t the guy they just tried to send home, but immediately recalled due to Hutchinson leaving for the birth of his child. Anyways, it doesn’t really matter if it is Sparks or Hutchinson as the backup, if it’s entirely on Andersen which seems like a lot to put on someone.

In contrast, the Bruins have Tuukka Rask who is very good, and Jaroslav Halak who has also done very well this season. Odds are their goaltending will be solid, but Rask will get first crack at the Leafs even though Halak’s had the favourable numbers this year.

If you haven’t been planning for this game since around mid-January and had no idea that Leafs and Bruins would be playing tonight, you can catch the game on CBC at 7pm ET.