I can go on about all the potential talking points this from this game. The Bruins need, and finally got, secondary scoring. The Maple Leafs defense is not their biggest strength. David Pastrnak and Mitch Marner came up huge for their respective teams. How this game would have been different had John Tavares, David Krejci, and Tuukka Rask played. However, there is a bigger picture.
It is going to happen again folks. Get ready for it. Set your schedules. Boston and Toronto are going to meet again in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Right now, the Bruins are the second seed in the Atlantic Division and Leafs are locked in at the third spot. Now early season standings tend to not mean much, look no further than Buffalo leading the Atlantic with Tampa Bay out of the playoffs at the moment. However, Boston and Toronto have a pretty solid track record with one another.
Most people, including myself, would say that the Lightning will knock off their early season rust and take over the top seed in the division. That should leave the Leafs and the Bruins in an absolute dog fight for second place. These two teams are pretty evenly matched. They both have some very high top end talent and very good goaltenders. Both teams will be battling all the way to the end to try and lock up that home ice advantage.
Home ice is incredibly important between these teams. The Bruins have beaten the Maple Leafs at the Boston Garden in game seven of the first round the last two springs. There is no doubt that it is a psychological hurtle Toronto will be dealing with until they vanquish Boston in the playoffs.
One great aspect about the Bruins facing the Leafs is the animosity it produces. Both teams just have to be sick of the other by now. These two rosters contain many of the same faces for these last two postseason bouts. (Bruins fans must be irritated that the Leafs got rid of Nazem Kadri and Jake Gardner.) There always seems to be some tension when these two teams take the ice. Saturday’s game saw both David Backes and Brad Marchand make contact with Toronto’s goalie Freddie Andersen. Charlie MacAvoy had his helmet knocked off at one point.
Rivalries mean more in the NHL than any other sport. The league must love that new gasoline is being poured on this century old rivalry. So Boston and Toronto fans should not be the only ones rooting for this playoff match up again. The league and fans of the NHL should be as well.
For the rest of the year, these two teams will be fighting for playoff seeding. They are going to try and overtake the Lighting for that elusive one seed. If that falls through, both teams will scratch and claw for that all important second seed and home ice advantage. The Leafs play the Bruins again in Boston on Tuesday. Chances are good the NHL and its fans are treated to another classic seven game series this April.
Story by Chad Jones
Follow Chad on Twitter @shutupchadjones