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Leafs vs. Bruins Recap: It Was 4-1

And it stayed that way.

NHL: Boston Bruins at Toronto Maple Leafs Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports


The Leafs had a lengthy ceremony in which, so far as I can tell, they retired all of the numbers that there are. As a result, the players are now identified by Egyptian hieroglyphics. Morgan Rielly is three palm leaves and a tax collector.

Anyway, the CBC made a mockery of the idea of public broadcasting by photoshopping Auston Matthews’ head onto various graphics of late-90s Mike Myers character Austin Powers. In other news, no one cheered Milan Michalek when his name was announced, and the recording of Wolfmother’s “The Joker and the Thief” skipped for several seconds. This leads to the unavoidable conclusion that the Leafs are still using CDs. Good lord.

After all that, Anthem-singer Martina Ortiz-Luis showed impressive vocal range (seriously though stop the pre-game anthems), and we were finally ready to go.

First Period

The Leafs got on the board rapidly when a puck was left waiting in front of Bruins goalie Anton Khudobin. Connor Brown knew exactly what to do with it.

After that, noted leader Nazem Kadri took on noted shithead David Backes and acquitted himself quite well.

Brad Marchand proceeded to show off his bad Brad persona and took back-to-back minors. The Leafs’ powerplay failed to set up extended cycles and, not coincidentally, to score. After that, Brown unfortunately gave back a bit of his recently-earned goodwill with a tripping call. Both Zach Hyman and Matt Martin did effective work on the kill.

And then this happened.

Marner. Mitch Goddamn Marner. The talent on this kid is unreal.

You know, all these kids are doing so well, but where’s JVR b—


But the Bruins weren’t dead. After Mitch Marner took a penalty, ex-Leaf John Michael Liles fed Nylander-friend David Pastrnak, who finished in style.

That was it for scoring this period, though the Leafs managed an impressive late flurry in the final minute. The score was 3-1 after one.

According to the EV Corsis—and keep in mind this was a period with 7:49 of powerplay time between the teams—the Leafs out-attempted the Bruins 14-13 (and keep in mind the Leafs took the lead two minutes in.) The Leafs looked fast, and dangerous, as all hell.

Second Period

The Bruins, as scoring effects would predict, began pushing in the second. When Jake Gardiner took a penalty, the Leafs managed two impressive shorthanded rushes, including a lovely solo effort by Connor Brown, but they also were left hanging on for dear life for several stretches in the first ten minutes. Marchand-Backes-Pastrnak, like it or not, is a damn good line.

Still, there were pluses for the Leafs. The offence-less agony of last year, where the Leafs would seemingly go hours without a scoring chance, wasn’t replicated. Hyman and Nylander both had behind-the-net-to-in-front passes that could have finished in goals. Marner had an absolutely bonkers shift where he generated two scoring chances almost single-handedly and then forced Anton Khudobin to take a penalty stopping a third. This kid, man.

There was one end-to-end-to-end-to-end sequence where the Matthews line and the Backes line traded two phenomenal chances each. In the Leafs’ case, the Bruins defence managed to break up dangerous passes; in the Bruins’ case, Andersen stone-cold robbed David Pastrnak.

Despite all the fireworks, the period ended scoreless. The Bruins had the better of the Corsi battle, as you might guess, and pressed very hard in the latter part of the second. But the Leafs continued to threaten whenever they got the puck. As Katya put it: “There's been some extended can't get out of the zone time, but once they are out, they own the other two zones.”

CBC was very impressed with Nikita Zaitsev, and with reason; he looked absolutely excellent.

Third Period

You know who Leafs fans forgot about? Milan Michalek. You know who else forgot about him? The Bruins defence.

Rielly’s offensive instincts are just great, and Michalek used to be a talented offensive opportunist. And so the Leafs went up 4-1.

Matt Martin showed some of the physicality for which he is famed, smashing Torey Krug with a hard, but clean, hit. Zdeno Chara took exception because, I don’t know, leadership, and the two of them had a quasi-fight for a little bit. Chara won because he is enormous, but took an instigator penalty.

The remainder of the game was relatively quiet. The Leafs played solidly and uneventfully the rest of the way, proving it is apparently possible to hold 4-1 leads against Boston. The first win of the new era is in the books.


-The Leafs were outpossessed in this one according to the Corsis, but actually wound up even in Fenwick if you prefer that. All of this is skewed by the fact that the Leafs had a lead for 58 minutes and a multi-goal lead for 48. I wouldn’t sweat it all that much; I’m pretty sure Jake Gardiner is better than a 27% possession player.

-Having said that: Gardiner and Carrick did give up quite a few chances, possibly as a result of playing behind the offensive-minded Matthews line, who generated opportunities at both ends of the ice. The Bruins had a couple of periods of dangerously sustained pressure that are a warning sign in a generally good game.

-Mitch Marner, you guys. Mitch Marner. There were a couple of offensive shifts that were just the Mitch Marner show. He’s so fast, so creative, and so deadly. This kid is going to be a superstar.

-Zaitsev wound up second on the team in ice time, and he earned it. He’s defensively sound and he’s an extremely smart passer. It looks more and more like the Leafs picked up a top four defenceman clean out of the KHL.

-Rielly had a quietly excellent game.

-Here are some tweets, just for you to see.

[whistles innocently to self]

-Andersen, praise God, was on his game tonight. He wasn’t at all at fault on the goal, he made several good saves, and he also showed some of his impressive puck-handling, a skill our most recent goalies have lacked.

-David Pastrnak is superb. He was easily the most dangerous Bruin; his line with Backes and Marchand was a chance factory. On the other hand, the Bruins defence is a shell of its former self.

-All in all, a very satisfying night for Leafs fans. We got something going here, folks.