Toronto Maple Leafs need historical performance to overcome the Boston Bruins

Photo credit:© Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
James Reeve
8 days ago
The Toronto Maple Leafs have made the post-season for an eighth consecutive year, and once again they will face off against the Boston Bruins.
The last time the Toronto Maple Leafs reached the playoffs for eight years in a row came back in the late 1970s/early 1980s, and once again this year saw the team make history as Auston Matthews reached new heights in front of the net with 69 goals – eclipsing his career-best, and Leafs franchise record, 60 from two years ago.
After much of the focus around the team was on Matthews and his hunt for 70, now their sole attention will be on the challenge ahead of them in the familiar form of the Boston Bruins – a team that has caused plenty of heartbreak over the last decade or so.
Not only have the Bruins been the bane of Leafs fandom ever since the devastating Game 7 collapse in 2013, but history shows that luck has not been on the Leafs’ side when facing the team in black and gold for multiple decades now.

Leafs Historical Struggles

With both teams being Original Six teams, most people would expect the two to have faced off against each other more times than most other teams. To the surprise of perhaps many, the Leafs and Bruins have faced each other in post-season play just 16 times prior to their upcoming playoff series, including just 10 times before the 1967 expansion of the league. In those Original Six years, the Leafs enjoyed plenty of success against the Bruins, and in the post-season generally, holding an 8-2 record over Boston when they have come up against each other.
However, things have not gone well since the league expanded.
The Leafs have played the Bruins six times since then, losing every time with a games split of 24-10 across the six games. Results were heavily favouring the Bruins in the 1970s, with a 12-1 games split, including three clean sweeps, before the last three playoff series in the 21st Century has resulted in three seven-game series between the two teams. The last time the Leafs tasted victory against Boston in the playoffs came in the 1958-59 season, where they reached the Stanley Cup finals after beating the Bruins in seven games before ultimately falling short to the Montreal Canadiens in five games.
With the Leafs now facing down yet another daunting task of defeating the Bruins in a playoff series, it will take something truly historical for them to overcome the odds, but this time could be different.

Leafs Extinguishing (Playoff) Demons

While life has not been kind to the Toronto Maple Leafs when they have taken on the Bruins, it has almost been swept under the rug for so many years due to the team having the unwanted experience of First Round exits on a yearly basis since first making the playoffs in 2013. The Leafs waited more than 10 years before they were finally able to overcome the biggest hurdle in front of them, toppling the reigning Stanley Cup champions the Tampa Bay Lightning in last year’s series – finally reaching the Second Round with their current core of stars such as Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and John Tavares.
It was a monumental moment for the team, shaking off years of doubts, questions, derision and general unpleasantness that hung over the team as a result of their inability to ‘get the job done’. Now that they have proven they are capable of doing exactly that, with the same core that have been one of the best in the entire league during regular season play, they can look to extinguish their next biggest demon – the Boston Bruins.
Matthews is coming off the best goalscoring year of any player in the cap era. Even Alexander Ovechkin, viewed as the greatest goalscorer of this era, never came close to putting up as many goals as the Leafs’ centre has this year, and that should give the team plenty of confidence to build around. The American had a career year in points with 107, Nylander hit 40 goals for a second consecutive year and Marner was more than a point-per-game in a season where he missed 13 games through injury.
There are a lot of positives for Toronto to take into this series with Boston, and having the confidence in their star players to get things done is something that they may not have had in years past.
It’s time for the Toronto Maple Leafs to live up to their lengthy history and legacy and push themselves beyond what they have shown in recent years, giving fans something tangible to believe in.
Defeating the Boston Bruins for the first time since 1959 would certainly do it.

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