BOSTON – They don’t put as many home-and-home series in the NHL schedule as they used to, and the Bruins are probably hoping that they didn’t do it at all anymore.
That’s because the Toronto Maple Leafs, without Auston Matthews no less, were able to secure a home-and-home sweep of the Bruins on Hockey Hall of Fame weekend with a 4-1 win over the Black and Gold at TD Garden on Saturday night.
The Leafs never trailed in the game, and held a two-goal advantage for much of a game where the Bruins couldn’t score, made enough D-zone mistakes to lose and really only came to play in the middle period of the game.
It was a tough night for Brandon Carlo that started with a turnover right onto the stick of Mitch Marner in the middle of the ice. Marner quickly snapped the puck up and over Tuukka Rask’s shoulder for the goal that got the Leafs off and running. Toronto made it a two-goal lead less than six minutes later with Carlo in the penalty box for a hooking call. The Leafs won the ensuing offensive zone face-off, and Nazem Kadri fed James van Riemsdyk holding inside position on Zdeno Chara in front for the power play strike.
It was JVR’s 14th career goal against the Bruins, which leads all Toronto players and makes him a certified Bruins killer at this point.
The Bruins finally answered with a Frank Vatrano redirect of a Torey Krug point shot to halve the lead, but that’s the only goal the B’s would scratch for against Leafs backup goalie Curtis McElhinney. Instead he made 38 big time saves, and the Leafs were able to extend the lead with a Morgan Rielly point blast in the third period.
Patrick Marleau put the icing on the cake with an empty net goal in the final two minutes to seal things for the Maple Leafs.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while the Bruins are going into troll mode.
*Here is the aforementioned “troll mode” for the Bruins now that they’ve clinched a playoff berth. They came out with a marketing campaign where they’re dragging FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mike Felger for his early season take that the Bruins season is over. He also ripped the young players at the beginning of the year as well, so they used the sound from “Felger and Mazz” with video clips of David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy dominating for the Black and Gold, and shots of the young players mean mugging at the camera. It definitely shows that the Bruins perhaps care a little too much about what the media thinks about them, but it’s also a fair bit of clap-back toward a take that was a little too harsh on the B’s early in the season.
*What a great piece on the Stoneman Douglas hockey team as they embark on a national hockey tournament after winning at the state level in the weeks after the Parkland shooting.
*Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman says the Hawks aren’t shaken even as they’ll be missing the playoffs for the first time in a long time. What a disappointing season.
*Despite a great season, Taylor Hall may end up missing the playoffs with the New Jersey Devils amidst his Hart Trophy-type season.
*Good news for the Toronto Maple Leafs as Auston Matthews is returning from injury ahead of the playoffs.
*For something completely different: This new, updated version of the Karate Kid web series looks awesome with Billy Zabka and Ralph Macchio.
Bruins star center Patrice Bergeron has been dealing with a fractured foot injury since late February. He sustained the injury while blocking a shot in the loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Coach Bruce Cassidy is predicting a return for Bergeron this weekend against the Minnesota Wild if he is medically cleared. He will be evaluated tomorrow.
Depending on the results from the evaluation, there might not even be a need to rush Bergeron back with the Bruins clinching a playoff berth in a 2-1 OT loss to the Blues yesterday evening.
MORE BRUINS: Bruins clinch playoff berth in 2-1 OT loss to Blues
The Bruins currently sit six points behind the Tampa Bay Lighting for first place in the Atlantic Division. Ten games currently remain on the B’s schedule with the Presidents' Trophy also hanging in the balance.
If the B’s decide to make a run for the Presidents' Trophy, Bergeron would definitely provide a boost in play in addition to leadership for the final stretch of the regular season.