Welcome to Playoff Hockey, featuring the Black and Gold.
Everything you needed to know about last night’s Bruins-Leafs game became gloriously apparent in the second period. That’s when registered scumbag Nazem Kadri had to be escorted off of the ice after viciously boarding Tommy Wingels. Then the entire city of Toronto folded like a deck chair and surrendered game one of the series.
Full sequence on the Wingels-Kadri incident. Wingels catches Marner up high, but no excuse for the Kadri hit. Gotta be a suspension pic.twitter.com/EEKeUd6t2z
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) April 13, 2018
The Leafs looked lost as they got outplayed, outskated, and outscored 5-1 at the TD Garden.
Trying to contain the Bruins’ top line of Pastrnak-Bergeron-Marchand proved a colossal failure from the start. Marchand netted the first goal just minutes into the first period, and the trio finished the game with six points total.
It was refreshing to see the Bruins set the fast pace of the game early on, as they relentlessly attacked the Leafs’ defense from the opening drop. More importantly, they scored first, something they’ve struggled to do all year.
Still, even after they got manhandled for the entire first period, credit to the Leafs for sticking with it early on. They responded to Marchand’s early goal with a goal of their own to lock the score at 1-1 after one period. If nothing else, they played a more physical game than the Bruins did – 42 hits against the Bruins’ 37.
But the Leafs’ physicality and over-aggressiveness came back to sting them, as Toronto players spent 21 minutes total in the penalty box. That allowed the Bruins to explode for five goals total and four in the final two periods. Toronto played shorthanded for three of the five Bruins’ goals, scored by five different Bruins – Brad Marchand, David Backes, David Pastrnak, David Krejci, and an acrobatic swat from Sean Kuraly.
Things started to unravel for the Leafs after Wingels almost got murdered by Kadri and then Kadri almost got murdered by a very angry Zdeno Chara. Kadri, who earned a five-minute penalty, will hopefully serve a life sentence from hockey after NHL officials determine his suspension time on Friday.
Kadri’s penalty was the dagger for the Leafs in the final minutes of the third period. Once they finally regained full strength, it was too late: they trailed 5-1 with less than five minutes remaining in the game.
Tuukka Rask, meanwhile, channeled his inner Tim Thomas, blocking 26 shots and allowing just one goal. It certainly wasn’t a standout performance, but it was exactly what the Bruins need nightly in this series.
Even though the score says otherwise, don’t be fooled by the blowout. It won’t be as easy as last night for the Bruins to topple the Leafs in a seven-game series.
Game Two, scheduled for Saturday at the Garden, could yield even more bloodshed, and you never know which way the puck will bounce. Like Boston, Toronto is highly motivated and supremely talented. I’m far from writing them off.
Regardless, it feels good to watch real playoff hockey, and if the Bruins can continue to play like they did last night, we might be watching for awhile longer.
Ben Healey is a high school junior from New Hampshire. He enjoys watching sports and does not enjoy grammatical error’s. You can contact him on Twitter @healey_1 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org