BOSTON (CBS) — Here we go again. The Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs will once again battle in the first round of the NHL Playoffs, with the puck dropping on the series Thursday night at TD Garden.
The two Original Six teams have had plenty of memorable playoff matchups, including last year’s seven-game bout. And perhaps the best of them all came back in 2013, when the Bruins mounted an epic comeback to erase a 4-1 deficit late in the third period of Game 7, winning the game and series on an overtime goal by Patrice Bergeron.
Is another epic showdown in the cards? WBZ-TV sports director Steve Burton and WBZ-TV sports producer Scott Sullivan broke down the series on another edition of “A Slice Of Sully,” and both are hoping for another seven-game clash.
“I love it. Rematch of last year, which was a great seven-game series, and I think it’s going to be another seven-game series,” said Sully. “The teams are very similar to last season; Toronto made a few nice additions while the Bruins are primarily the same team. I think it’s going to be a great matchup.”
With the Bruins sending them packing last year, the Leafs have a big chip on their shoulder enter the series. They also have John Tavares this time around, who tallied 47 goals and 41 assists in his first season with the Leafs. He led the charge on Toronto’s dangerous offensive attack, which had seven different 20-goal scorers during the regular season.
Can the Bruins’ defense slow down Toronto’s offense?
“I think the Bruins match up well with Toronto. Toronto is more of a slick, fast-skating team. The Bruins are much better defensively and they play them well,” said Sully. “They’ll be able to handle Toronto’s forwards, and I think Toronto will have trouble with their finesse game against the Bruins’ tough and rugged defense.”
Boston’s top line of Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak have been great all season, and they have had success against the Leafs over the last few years. That will need to continue to advance to the second round.
“Last year, that top line scored 30 points in their series against Toronto. All 30 points came in their four wins, and in their losses they had zero points,” said Sully. “If Toronto contains that front line, the Leafs have the advantage. But if that line goes off again, then there’s a good chance the Bruins will win the series.
“This year, the Bruins took three of four [from Toronto] and the top line had 19 points. They have killed Toronto over the last couple of years,” Sully continued. “Toronto needs to stop that line to have any chance, and if they do stop that line, they have a very good chance.”
All that being said, Sully and Burton both like the Bruins to win the series in seven games (check out predictions from the WBZ Sports team here). You can get their full analysis on the series in the video above, including their thoughts on Boston netminder Tuukka Rask, and click here for previous episodes of “A Slice Of Sully.”