Game Four: Toronto Maple Leafs play Boston Bruins in the Toronto Dominion Garden

Tonight’s tilt starts at 7:00 p.m. on HNIC, TVAS, NBCSN and NESN. Find your CBC stream on their website at this link.

This is it, the best of three. The Leafs have won one game in Boston, and the Bruins have done the same in Toronto. The Leafs have arguably been the better team through three of the four contests so far, but the one game where the Bruins dominated came in their home rink, where two of the three final contests will be played.

Win or lose, the Buds will get another game after tonight, but a win would seriously put the ball in their court with a chance to win the series on home ice on Sunday. Okay, enough preamble, this is making me nervous already.

Last game, the Bruins got healthier before puck drop and used the increased depth to shift David Pastrnak around the lineup to great effect. Now on home ice, they’ll be that much more dangerous. On the other side, Zach Hyman got hurt late in Game four and literally had to crawl to the bench. My well-meaning mom decided to remind me of that last night at dinner. Mike Babcock all but confirmed that he’s injured but will play through the pain and remain in his first-line left-wing position.

Game four saw the John Tavares line plus the Jake Muzzin and Nikita Zaitsev pairing falter against the Patrice Bergeron line for the first time in the series. The five-some gave up three goals to the line with Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and one of either Pastrnak or Danton Heinen. In 10+ minutes playing head to head, the Bergeron out-corsi’d Tavares 9-15, giving up nine scoring chances to boot. They will absolutely need to be better for the Leafs to win, which is almost cruel to say since they will be without a 100% Hyman and the first change.

Auston Matthews had a pretty good Game four. He scored twice and had a scoring chance ratio of 15-4 almost exclusively against the David Krejci line. He and his linemates, Andreas Johnsson and Kasperi Kapanen, beating the Bruins second unit while Tavares and William Nylander’s third line attempt to saw off against an aggressively deployed Bergeron line will have to be the difference on the night.

On defense, expect Travis Dermott to be sheltered as much as he was in the first two games of the series (while the games were actually competitive). He only had one defensive zone start across those two games and the majority of his shifts were with the fourth or third lines. He and Jake Gardiner will of course be getting spot shifts in the offensive zone with Morgan Rielly like they’ve been doing all series, meaning Morgan will be skating close to 25 minutes for the fifth straight game. Rielly’s ice time, in fact, was lower in the first two games than in the second two, indicating that Muzzin and Zaitsev were given more of the burden while chasing the Bergeron line. Fingers crossed they can have a bounceback from Game four.

Maple Leafs

Forward Lines

Zach Hyman - John Tavares - Mitch Marner
Andreas Johnsson - Auston Matthews - Kasperi Kapanen
Patrick Marleau - William Nylander - Connor Brown
Trevor Moore - Frederik Gauthier - Tyler Ennis

Defence Pairings

Morgan Rielly - Ron Hainsey
Jake Muzzin  - Nikita Zaitsev
Jake Gardiner - Travis Dermott


Frederik Andersen
Michael Hutchinson

Boston Bruins

Forward Lines

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - Marcus Johansson
Danton Heinen - Charlie Coyle - David Backes
Sean Kuraly - Noel Acciari- Chris Wagner

Defence Pairings

Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug - Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk - John Moore


Tuukka Rask
Jaroslav Halak

Sean Kuraly returns to the lineup:

In case you were wondering where he was, assuming you remembered he existed:

Zach Hyman was a regular participant at practice, and the Leafs lines are unchanged.