Knee Jerk Reaction: You can’t cheat the Boston Bruins

Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Hobson
1 month ago
The Boston Bruins have long been a thorn in the side of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and tonight was no different. Sure, things have been going great for the Leafs lately. Sure, they’re fresh off a seven-game win streak and have won 13 of their last 17. Sure, they just brought back a familiar bruiser to provide some much-needed relief on the back end. And, sure, the Bruins are coming off a 5-1 loss to the New York Islanders.
None of this matters. The team with the “B” on their chest will always give the team with a Maple Leaf on their chest a hard time. Whether it’s the regular season, playoffs, October, May, 2013, or 2023. Whether their top-line centre is Patrice Bergeron or Pavel Zacha. Whether their goaltender is Tuukka Rask or Jeremy Swayman. Whether their fourth line is made up of Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton or Jakob Lauko and Justin Brazeau. It doesn’t matter – it’s a guarantee in life just like death and taxes.
The reality is, the Leafs didn’t play awful tonight, even if you watched the game tonight and feel inclined to suggest otherwise. The Leafs outshot them, had more takeaways and less giveaways, and were better in the faceoff dot. But in the end, they gave the Bruins chances to get back into the game and the Bruins took advantage. The Leafs’ power play was too cute on their first go-around, giving the Bruins an easy kill and a momentum boost on their side after a pretty even start to the game. Moments later, they opened the scoring. Then, the Leafs took a penalty. What did Boston do? They took advantage and made it 2-0.
The pair of Timothy Liljegren and T.J. Brodie, who stepped up and played some of the best hockey seen by a Leafs defensive pair this season in the wake of Morgan Rielly’s suspension, had arguably their worst game of the season tonight. They were on the ice for both the 3-0 goal and the 4-1 goal in the back half of the third to virtually kill any chance of a Leafs comeback. Liljegren specifically was in outer space on the Bruins’ goal, puck-watching to a point that would typically get you into the press box for a game.
It’s a tale as old as time. You cannot cheat the Bruins no matter who’s on the roster or where they are in the standings. Sure, it helps that Swayman was on his game and Joseph Woll wasn’t great. The Leafs also seemed to win the “bad bounce” competition tonight. They played the better hockey game overall, but playing the better hockey game doesn’t always ~win~ the hockey game. Boston took advantage of their opportunities and made the Leafs pay, and added two points to their lead on the Leafs in the Atlantic Division race.
Anyway, if you’re a fan of the Leafs and find yourself thinking “This year is shaping up like every other year” based on tonight’s game, I’ll leave you with the tweet below. Use it to cope accordingly.
Don’t go too far. The Leafs have games against three Atlantic Division opponents this week, two of which are bound to miss the playoffs, with the third coming against, you guessed it! The Bruins. We’ll see if anything changes come Thursday.

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