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Bruins have been provoked, expect a strong Game 3 response

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Photo credit:James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Arun Srinivasan
1 month ago
It’s not a series until the road team wins as the adage goes and the Boston Bruins are entering Scotiabank Arena with vengeance on their minds. Boston dominated Toronto 5-1 in Game 1, then Toronto responded with a 3-2 victory in Game 2, aided by superlative performances from Auston Matthews and Ilya Samsonov.
Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery wasn’t pleased Monday night and now the bear — err, Bruins — have been poked and provoked.
“I didn’t think our urgency was where it needed to be to prevail tonight,” Montgomery told reporters following Game 2. “Puck management? I didn’t think puck management was a detriment to us, I just didn’t think we won enough wall battles to get out of our end successfully.”
Toronto has controlled 57.3 percent of the expected goals at 5-on-5 while outshooting Boston 53-37 during the opening two games via Natural Stat Trick. Boston excels on the counterattack and doesn’t necessarily need to control possession to have success, but it’s enough of a gap for Montgomery to raise his concerns — it’s one thing to excel on the counter, it’s quite another to allow the Maple Leafs to walk in and get quality looks.
Bruins captain Brad Marchand seemed to hint that the 2024 Maple Leafs aren’t the same team that would capitulate mentally in the past.
“They’re playing a really good, playoff-type game right now,” Marchand told reporters Tuesday. “You knew they would. They’re built different than in the past years. They’re playing a lot more physical, very committed to forechecking, playing very tight defensively. So, you’ve got to give them credit. They’re one of the top teams for a reason. And then when you add their offensive ability on top of that, they’re a tough team to play right now.
Boston’s top two lines have been outchanced, outshot and outpossessed: Marchand, Charlie Coyle and Jake DeBrusk have controlled 42.7 percent of the expected goals at 5-on-5, while being tied 10-10 on shots — although Marchand and DeBrusk were absolutely clinical on the power play during the Game 1 rout. David Pastrnak, Pavel Zacha and Danton Heinen have been outscored 2-0, outshot 8-5, while holding a 33.3 percent share of the expected goals. Pastrnak has cooked the Maple Leafs during the regular season and he won’t settle for a third of the goal share.
Marchand’s Bruins aren’t going down without a fight. They’re not going to be a reduced to a physical, counterpunching team that allows Matthews’ and the Maple Leafs’ high-end firepower take over a series. And now they’ve been provoked by the idea they’re playing with a lack of urgency.
Expect a strong response from the Bruins. Marchand is still adept at rattling the Maple Leafs, drawing a penalty in each contest, while Pastrnak, despite a goal and an assist, hasn’t played his best hockey yet. This is a Bruins group that swept the Maple Leafs during the regular season and they’ll be ready to roar when the puck drops Wednesday.

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