By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — When the NHL rolled out its new playoff format five years ago, it did so with the hope of building some real divisional rivalries. That appears to be playing out exactly as planned in Boston and Toronto.
For the second straight year — and the third time since 2013 — the Bruins and Maple Leafs are set to face off in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It’s a matchup that’s become well-known at this point, and it’s one that’s remained pretty tight.
Going back to the lockout-shortened 2013 season, the Bruins are 12-9-4 vs. Toronto and 8-6 against them in the playoffs. While the Bruins did win both of those playoff series, both did require Game 7’s, and one required a third-period comeback for the ages for Boston to pull off the win on home ice.
While the future is never predictable — especially when it comes to playoff hockey — here is a look at what’s happened this year involving the two teams to get you ready for yet another Bruins-Maple Leafs series.
BOSTON BRUINS: 49-24-9, 107 points
3-1-0 vs. Toronto in 2018-19
Leading Goal Scorers
David Pastrnak: 38 goals
Brad Marchand: 36 goals
Patrice Bergeron: 32 goals
Jake DeBrusk: 27 goals
Brad Marchand: 100 points
David Pastrnak: 81 points
Patrice Bergeron: 79 points
David Krejci: 73 points
Charlie McAvoy: 22:10
Torey Krug: 21:18
Zdeno Chara: 21:05
Brandon Carlo: 20:55
Tuukka Rask: 27-13-5, .912 save percentage, 2.48 GAA
Jaroslav Halak: 22-11-4, .922 save percentage, 2.34 GAA
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS: 46-28-8, 100 points
1-3-0 vs. Boston in 2018-19
Leading Goal Scorers
John Tavares: 47 goals
Auston Matthews: 37 goals
Mitch Marner: 26 goals
Zach Hyman: 21 goals
Morgan Rielly: 20 goals
Andreas Johnsson: 20 goals
Kasperi Kapanen: 20 goals
Mitch Marner: 92 points
John Tavares: 88 points
Auston Matthews: 72 points
Morgan Rielly: 72 points
Morgan Rielly: 23:07
Jake Gardiner: 21:13
Jake Muzzin: 21:02
Nikita Zaitsev: 20:28
Frederik Andersen: 36-16-7, .917 save percentage, 2.77 GAA
Garret Sparks: 8-9-1, .902 save percentage, 3.15 GAA
Saturday, Nov. 10
Bruins 5, Maple Leafs 1
The Bruins led just 1-0 after the first period on a Patrice Bergeron goal, before David Pastrnak scored a pair of second-period goals to make the lead 3-0. John Tavares scored for Toronto, but Pastrnak made it a hat trick in the third period. Joakim Nordsrom scored 26 seconds later to turn it into a rout.
Backup Garret Sparks was in net that night for Toronto, stopping 29 of the 34 shots he faced. Jaroslav Halak stopped 40 of 41 shots on the other end for Boston. Those 40 saves marked the second-highest single-game total for Halak on the whole season.
The game ended a three-game winning streak for Toronto. The Bruins were coming off an embarrassing 8-5 loss at home to Vancouver.
Monday, Nov. 26
Maple Leafs 4, Bruins 2
Josh Leivo broke a 2-2 tie late in the second period with a power-play goal, and Zach Hyman scored an empty-netter late in the third to secure the victory. Mitch Marner had three assists on the night. Igor Ozhiganov scored his first career goal for Toronto. Pastrnak scored two goals for Boston.
Halak was in net for this one, too, allowing three goals on 30 shots. Frederik Andersen made 38 saves on 40 Boston shots.
Saturday, Dec. 8
Bruins 6, Maple Leafs 3
The Bruins led 1-0 after the first period, 3-0 after the second, and stretched it to 4-0 less than two minutes into the third period. The lead grew to 6-1 before Auston Matthews and Andreas Johnsson tallied goals for Toronto.
Anderson stopped 22 of 28 shots before getting pulled for Sparks. Halak was once again in net for Boston, making 29 saves on 32 shots.
Saturday, Jan. 12
Bruins 3, Maple Leafs 2
Tuukka Rask made 30 saves in his first and only action of the season against Toronto, as the Bruins rallied from a 2-1 deficit midway through the second period to take a 3-2 lead just 15 seconds before the end of the second, thanks to goals from Sean Kuraly and David Pastrnak.
This was one of just five games played by Michael Hutchinson for Toronto; he stopped 26 Boston shots.
This will mark the 16th time in history that the Maple Leafs and Bruins have met in the playoffs, but 13 of those 16 series came between 1933 and 1974. They have seen plenty of each other in relatively recent history though, meeting in the 2013 and 2018 playoffs.
The Leafs have won eight of the 15 series thus far, though Boston has won the only two that have taken place since the mid-70s.
In 2013, the Bruins took a 3-1 series lead before dropping a pair of 2-1 losses to Toronto. The Maple Leafs opened up a 4-1 lead in the third period of Game 7 in Boston, sending a lot of fans to the exits. What followed was one of the best moments in Bruins history.
When the teams met again in the 2018 playoffs, Bruce Cassidy had stepped in behind the Boston bench and Mike Babcock had done the same in Toronto. Yet again, the series went seven games, despite the Bruins jumping out to a 3-1 series lead. In that Game 7, the teams combined for four goals in the first 10 minutes of the first period in what turned out to be a wild back-and-forth affair. The Bruins led 3-2 after the first, the Leafs led 4-3 after the second, and the Bruins piled on with four third-period goals to run away with a 7-4 win.
WHY AREN’T THEY CALLED THE MAPLE LEAVES?
You should know this by now, but it’s likely to come up in conversation. And on the off chance that you’re not aware of the reasoning behind this grammatical perplexity, we’re here to help.
So here goes. If you want to know the answer … Google it. We’re not going to do everything for you.