6 Takeaways from Bruins’ Game 4 Win vs. Maple Leafs

In what was ultimately a make-or-break Game 4 for the Toronto Maple Leafs against the Boston Bruins, they shattered.

Five things Maple Leafs must fix to even series with Bruins - Daily Faceoff

The Bruins took down the Maple Leafs 3-1 at Scotiabank Arena and have a 3-1 series lead heading home to Boston, where they can put a merciful end to Toronto’s season.

With goals from former Leaf James van Riemsdyk, Brad Marchand and David Pastrňák along with a stellar performance by Jeremy Swayman in goal with 24 saves, the Bruins frustrated the Maple Leafs to no end. The fans booed the home team off the ice after the second period when Pastrňák’s goal with under a minute to go made it a 3-0 game.

The vibes are all off for Toronto, and Boston is clicking. It’s a bad recipe for the Leafs as they’ll look to copy what the Florida Panthers did to the Bruins last season and come back from being down 3-1.

We’ve got six observations to take from Game 4, which seemed to put a virtual end to Toronto’s season.

Toronto Lays an Egg at the Worst Time

Mitch Marner

Since 2016, the Maple Leafs are 8-14 at home in the playoffs. Even last year when they finally got past the first round, they went 1-5 at home. They’re now 0-2 this year and will need to come up with a win Tuesday in Game 5 on the road to see if they can turn their luck around.

They’re going to need a lot of horseshoes and rabbit’s feet to conjure up that sort of good fortune.

But Saturday night’s game was a brutal slog for Toronto. Boston’s forecheck and overall defensive play frustrated Toronto and despite the Maple Leafs being a more offense-oriented team, turning games into a brand of firewagon hockey is not something they’re interested in.

“That’s not a good recipe,” Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said. “That’s a recipe we went with at times in the regular season and it didn’t really work out for us.”

Toronto’s defense has been good, but the lack of push with the offense is too bad because their playoff offense in recent memory has been awful. They’ve scored seven goals in four games against Boston and scored 10 goals in five games against Florida last year.

Defense might win championships, but when there’s no offense to speak of it doesn’t much matter.

Brad Marchand Owns Toronto

Bruins name Brad Marchand as team captain. He says he's ready | WBUR News

Boston fans love him, almost everyone else across the NHL hates him, but like Wes Mantooth with Ron Burgundy, you have to respect what he does to help the Bruins win.

Marchand broke Toronto’s hearts in Game 3 scoring twice in the third period to give them a 4-2 win and he did it again in Game 4, scoring a power-play goal that made it 2-0 midway through the second period.

 

The Bruins’ captain recorded another point after taking advantage of a Toronto turnover in the neutral zone and setting up David Pastrňák to make it 3-0 with 42 seconds to go in the second.

He scores, he sets up his teammates, he wears the “C” and he drives everyone in blue absolutely bonkers. What might make everyone madder at him is how much of a professional he is discussing everything that goes into leading the Bruins and dealing with the Maple Leafs.

“There’s so much excitement obviously around us and the Leafs and the history and the matchup and it is, right now, probably the biggest rivalry that we have,” Marchand said. “So, it’s exciting. There’s a lot of outside noise, but I’m sure in their room and just like in our room, we block that out. We worry about (what) we need to do, and we need to execute.”

Bruins Make Right Choice with Swayman

How Jeremy Swayman Felt About Bruins Pausing Goalie Rotation

One of the more curious mysteries going into Game 4 was who would start for the Bruins in goal. Jeremy Swayman took care of business in Games 1 and 3 while Linus Ullmark took a tough loss in Game 2, but played well.

The Bruins have had a steady rotation between the two top-notch netminders the past two seasons, but teams generally don’t do rotations in the playoffs. Seeing the Bruins even do it early on was fascinating, but it was Swayman who got the call in Game 4 and when the Maple Leafs found some of their game in the third period, he stood tall and made 24 saves.

“He was really good,” Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said. “What went into the decision was we’re going to rotate in the first two games and then Swayman played so well, we’re going to go with the hot hand.”

It’s hard to argue with the logic (and the wins), but both Swayman and Ullmark put up remarkably similar stats this season and when you factor in that Ullmark won the Vezina a year ago, it would seem to be a tricky decision. But with the way Swayman showed out under pressure in the third and stymied Toronto when they pushed, it would make sense if they went right back to him in Game 5.

Montgomery said we’ll find out on Tuesday about that. Gamesmanship, always.

The Leafs’ Power Play Is Powerless

If the Maple Leafs wind up losing this series to Boston, one of the biggest reasons why they do will be their power play.

With a team loaded with offensive weapons like Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, John Tavares and Morgan Rielly, it feels almost insulting to see how poorly the power play has performed.

The Leafs’ power play is 1-for-14 in the series and it’s not just the results that make it look terrible, it’s also the complete lack of execution of it along with the decisions with the puck. For example, Toronto had a brief 4-on-3 power play in the second period and as they circled back through the neutral zone to bring the puck up, they used a drop pass to try and get the puck carrier through with speed… against three defenders. It’s abysmal.

“I think we’ve had a lot of looks up until tonight, and tonight we just couldn’t seem to get into any looks, that we want to get anything clean, and we didn’t retrieve pucks as well,” Maple Leafs captain John Tavares said. “Throughout the series, the numbers don’t look great, but I think the opportunities have been there and we just haven’t been able to cash in and find ways to get maybe more second and third opportunities, but obviously, we needed to flip the script in that area.”

Boy, do they ever.

Matthews Missing Means Big Trouble for Game 5

Auston Matthews Continues to Impress for the Toronto Maple Leafs

Apart from being down 3-0 after two periods, the biggest concern for Toronto was the absence of 69-goal scorer Auston Matthews in the third period.

Matthews has been dealing with an illness and playing through it, but things went from bad to worse without their top gunner in the final 20 minutes and sets an added foreboding tone headed into an elimination game on Tuesday.

“It’s all related to illness he’s been dealing with,” Keefe said. “He’s been giving us everything he has here and ultimately the doctors pulled him.”

Keefe added he’s hopeful having two days off until the next game will give Matthews enough time to recover and feel better to play, but the fact that’s up in the air makes everything that much shakier.

Toronto’s offense has been virtually non-existent even with Matthews out there and should they have to go without him in Game 5, the mountain to climb gets even steeper. Fortunately, Toronto got William Nylander back in the lineup on Saturday, but even he didn’t quite fully look like himself.

Even though the Maple Leafs have a ton of talent, if they’re going to win three straight games, Captain Obvious says they absolutely must have Matthews in the lineup to do it.

Bruins Must Learn Their Lesson from Last Season

It was a year ago the Bruins went into Game 5 against the Florida Panthers looking to close out the series and move on to the next round.

Instead, the Bruins dropped Game 5 at home thanks to a Matthew Tkachuk overtime winner, and the Panthers rolled from there to upset the Presidents’ Trophy winners. It’s the kind of memory that sits at the front of every Bruins fan’s mind, and it will loom around the series if Boston doesn’t close out Toronto on Tuesday.

That kind of bitter pill is one you’d think would stick with the Bruins, but if it is, they’re not tipping their hands about it.

“Take the time to learn from the past, but also don’t get married to it,” Pastrňák said. “Kind of move away and we have a different group. It’s a big game coming home Tuesday. We battled hard to put ourselves to the position, so we have to remember, but stay in the moment and focus on the next one.”

If last year’s debacle still hangs over this year’s Bruins, we should have an idea about that quickly.

“There’s a lot of guys in our room that have gone through it just a little while ago,” Montgomery said. “And, you know, it hurts. We’re going to see how much we’ve learned because we’ll see by our start on Tuesday.”

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