BOSTON (CBS)- The Boston Bruins look to take a 3-1 series lead over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night.
Boston is up 2-1 thanks to a strong performance in Game 3, Toronto’s first home playoff game in over nine years.
CBC Hockey writer Tim Wharnsby joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s The Adam Jones Show on Tuesday night, and said those playoff jitters — along with the hard hitting Bruins — were too much for the Leafs on Monday.
“Here was the first playoff game in Toronto in nine years. The city was excited, there was a buzz we haven’t seen in a long, long time and I think that had an effect on the players,” said Wharnsby. “I think that is 50-percent of it, and the other is how well Boston can turn it on at times. If they’re fore-checking the way they were, if Milan Lucic is hitting the way he was hitting, they’re a pretty unstoppable force.”
There has been a bit of a war of words when it comes to the faceoff circle, with Tyler Bozak throwing out the word “cheat” and Leafs coach Randy Carlyle saying that the faceoffs were not following the proper order.
Wharnsby says this is all just lobbying from the Leafs, and Boston’s experience — and success — at the dot could be the difference by the time the series is over.
“I think it’s a lot of gamesmanship. It’s no secret the Bruins are the best faceoff team in the NHL. I talked to Travis Green — I know he is a former Bruin but his best hockey was played here in Toronto. I remember him winning so many draws. He talked to be about being a good faceoff man, and said the good faceoff men are always accused of cheating.”
“He told me the biggest thing about being a faceoff man is experience. You learn tendency not only from your opposition, but the way certain linesmen drop the puck,” said Wharnsby. “If you look at the experience of (Boston’s) four centers and Rich Peverley, they’re all 6-9 years of NHL experience. When you look at the Leafs, the most veteran center man is Mikhail Grabovski at six years, all the rest are around four.”
“They just don’t have that experience in the faceoff circle, and something like faceoff draws become so important come playoff time.”