TORONTO – The more experienced players in the Bruins dressing room know that a 2-0 playoff series lead doesn’t mean much of anything for what lies beyond those first two wins.
They even know that a 3-0 lead in a best-of-seven series doesn’t mean anything is a done deal either, as guys like Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara and Tuukka Rask were cast into the role of postseason victims after blowing a 3-0 lead to the Flyers back in the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs.
David Krejci was the key figure in that series as it was a Mike Richards' center ice hit on him in Game 4 of that series that dislocated his wrist, knocked him out for the rest of the playoffs and keyed four-straight losses for the Black and Gold to blow their commanding lead.
So even though the Bruins head into Toronto on Monday night with a 2-0 lead where they’ve piled up 12 goals, five power play goals and have never trailed for even one second in the series, they know the best punch has yet to come from the Maple Leafs.
“A couple of bounces have gone our way. I don’t know we’ve done anything any better than any other line other than get a couple of lucky bounces,” said Marchand, whose line has directly scored five of the 12 goals through two games in the series. “Especially last game, they played really hard and had a lot more zone time and were a tougher team to play against than in the first game.
“Playoffs are hard. The game ramps up a bit and there’s a little less space out there. They compete hard and they’ve had some chances, so it’s been a good battle both ways.”
As the old hockey saying goes, it’s not really a Stanley Cup playoff series until the home team loses a game. The Bruins hope they can do that at least once this week with a couple of games against the Leafs in Toronto, and that would give them a chance to close things out on home at TD Garden this weekend. Toronto isn’t going to be an easy mark at home, however, where their young guys will be better and where Mike Babcock will get the match-ups he wants in the series. That will probably mean getting Auston Matthews away from Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara, where he can do some damage offensively.
“We need to make sure we come out the right way, play with our legs and play with some energy,” said Bergeron. “We do know they’re going to do the same thing, especially at home and we’re expecting that. It’s about how we handle it.”
The Maple Leafs won 13 games in a row on home ice at the Air Canada Centre in the middle of February and March, so the Bruins are going in with the proper amount of respect for an opponent they’ve truly kicked around the arena in the first couple of games.
“It’s going to be pretty hostile and we understand that,” said Bruins rookie winger Jake DeBrusk. “I just remember playing the games there earlier this year and it was pretty crazy. But it’s going to be different obviously in the playoffs.
“They’re down 2-0, so they’re going to come out really hard. We need to respond and play our game. You understand that no team wants to go down 3-0 and we want to up, three-nothing, so the biggest thing is just trying to get one win. We’re going to do that in the next game.”
One other pitfall that might be there for the B’s if they’re not too careful? Other players on the B’s roster getting a little comfortable or complacent simply relying on their Perfection Line to keep cranking after combining for 20 points in the first two games of the series against a suspect Toronto defensive corps. David Backes said that taking the foot off the gas pedal just two games into the series would be a costly mistake even if the Leafs are weakened without players like Nazem Kadri and Leo Komarov, and seemingly in a first round mismatch against the Bruins.
“You want to keep your foot on the gas because this team has had success against us in the past and they’ve done a good job playing us, especially in their building,” said Backes. “Complacency is probably the enemy at the moment, but we need to go start from the puck drop. It’s a 0-0 game, and establish ourselves again.
“The rest of us, we need to make sure that we’re not just saying, ‘Well they’re going to have another awesome night tonight.’ If we’re going to just sit back and wait for them to do it, if there’s a night where they just don’t have it, or they don’t get a bounce or two, we need secondary scoring to step up and make sure we have that.”
The Bruins are certainly saying all the right things going into Monday night’s Game 3 and know another win will give them a really stranglehold on the series against a wounded, reeling Leafs team that’s desperate enough to be playing Tomas Plekanec on their second line. Now it’s a matter of Boston going out and backing up the talk with the same kind of play that’s essentially dominated Toronto through the first 120 minutes of the series.