Toronto Maple Leafs set to face the Boston Bruins in 2023-24 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Photo credit:Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Hobson
10 days ago
The Toronto Maple Leafs walked into their second-last game of the season with their own fate in their hands. A win over the Florida Panthers ensured them a first-round matchup against that very team. A loss in addition to an Ottawa Senators win over the Boston Bruins would set them up for a first-round tilt against a familiar foe who have long had their number in the postseason. And, with a 5-2 loss to the Panthers, the verdict is in – the Leafs will indeed play the Bruins in Round 1 of the 2023-24 NHL Playoffs.
Things looked promising for the Leafs early on. They got out to a hot start in the first period, up 2-0 and outshooting the Panthers 14-6 after the first 20 minutes. From there, to put it lightly, s**t hit the fan. The Panthers scored four goals and outshot the Leafs 31-4 in the second period (yes, you read that right), marking the fourth-most shots by an NHL team in a single period in the league’s entire history. As this was taking place, the Senators jumped out to a 2-0 lead over the Bruins and never gave the lead back up. The Bruins couldn’t afford the Panthers to take any points should they have lost in regulation, and that’s exactly what happened.
If you’ve paid a morsel of attention to the Leafs in the past decade, you know why the idea of facing the Bruins in a playoff series rings alarm bells. They made a comeback for the ages in a 2013 first-round matchup that Leafs fans still hear jokes about to this day, and took the series in both 2017-18 and 2018-19, each one in seven games. That said, if they want to make a meaningful run in the playoffs, they don’t get to pick and choose their opponents. Not facing them in the first round probably means they’d get them in the second round if they even advanced that far themselves, so there wasn’t any escaping them to begin with.
The Maple Leafs struggled mightily against the Bruins this season, going 0-2-2 against them in four games, which won’t inspire much confidence. On the flip side to that, the Leafs went 3-1-0 against Boston in 2017-18, and it didn’t help them much in the postseason. Essentially, the message to take away here is that the series is going to be a bloodbath one way or another, and ultimately, all that matters is that they show up for each game in the postseason. They have the firepower up front, they’ve got sturdiness on the back end, and they’ve got a pair of goalies in the crease who have both displayed the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. If the team can get all of these moving parts on the same page, it’s anyone’s game. If not, well, you probably know how it ends.
Either way, buckle up.

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