Bruins

Highlights from the Bruins' 3-2 loss to the Maple Leafs in Game 3

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USA Today Sports Images

Highlights from the Bruins' 3-2 loss to the Maple Leafs in Game 3

FINAL SCORE: Maple Leafs 3, Bruins 2

IN BRIEF: The Bruins' special teams and their lack of competitiveness kept them from reclaiming home ice in their Game 3 loss in Toronto.

BOX SCORE 

BRUINS-MAPLE LEAFS SERIES: Maple Leafs lead 2-1 

FROM JOE HAGGERTY:

The Bruins special teams have been bad at both ends in Game 3. They’ve allowed a couple of PP goals in the second period and their top power play has looked anemic in a couple of possessions to this point. It just goes hand-in-hand with Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak once again looking ordinary in this one and not really showing that dominant puck possession game that we’ve seen out of them against the Maple Leafs in the past. Bergeron and Marchand were on ice as the penalty killing duo for two Leafs PP goals in the second period, and that top power play unit hasn’t had any offensive juice despite a number of chances in this game. It’s sure beginning to look like the Leafs have figured out a way to slow them down defensively this time around with Jake Muzzin and Nikita Zaitsev doing a job on them.

Big PP goal by Charlie Coyle at the end of the second period when he collected a loose puck around the Toronto net after a Matt Grzelcyk shot went long off the end boards. That’s two goals in three playoff games for the Bruins after really struggling to find the offensive range for the Black and Gold during the regular season after his trade to Boston. You could argue that Coyle has been Boston’s best forward to this point in the series, which means that some other players need to start stepping up.

The Bruins aren’t playing with the same competitive fire that we saw on Saturday night in Boston. The Leafs are out-hitting them and outplaying them in the physical game, winning the special teams battle and generally look more energetic through the first two periods. It’s a shame the Bruins aren’t building on what they did in Game 2 in their own building, but it’s also to their credit that it’s just a one-goal game entering the final 20 minutes. The Leafs are once again using their speed and attack to make the Bruins look sloppy at both ends, and like they’re a step behind most of the time. 

HIGHLIGHTS

MARCHAND LOOKING LOCKED IN EARLY

MOORE BREAKS SCORELESS TIE

KREJCI TIES IT AT 1-1

RASK SHAKEN UP AFTER TAVARES IS PUSHED INTO HIM: STAYS IN THE GAME

LEAFS RECLAIM THE LEAD

JOHNSSON EXTENDS TORONTO'S LEAD

COYLE MAKES IT 3-2

UP NEXT
Game 4 @ Maple Leafs, Wednesday, 7 p.m. (NBCS)
Game 5 vs Maple Leafs, Friday, TBD

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Marc Savard 'fired up' to attend Bruins-Maple Leafs Game 5 at TD Garden

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AP photo

Marc Savard 'fired up' to attend Bruins-Maple Leafs Game 5 at TD Garden

The Bruins will have a special guest in attendance for Friday night's Game 5 matchup against the Maple Leafs.

Ex-B's star Marc Savard will be at TD Garden to cheer on his former team, and he's pumped about the opportunity.

Could this mean Savard will be the Bruins' honorary fan banner captain? After all, Savard made his pitch last week to get the chance to wave the flag and fire up the crowd.

If so, it's a great choice. Before Savard's NHL career came to an abrupt end in 2011 due to head injuries, he was among the most productive offensive players in the game. To this day, he's one of the most beloved players to ever suit up in a Bruins uniform.

It's hard to imagine a better choice to get the TD Garden crowd rocking on Friday night.

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Bruins have been outplayed, but they're still better than Maple Leafs

Bruins have been outplayed, but they're still better than Maple Leafs

Three-game series. Winner-take-all. This is why you want home ice. Blah blah blah

Here's the rub: The Bruins are better than the Leafs, but they haven't been the better team this series. Were it not for spurts of scoring in between Toronto's lengthy sessions of peppering Tuukka Rask, the Bruins would be on the brink of elimination. Hockey's a funny game, though; the better team can be outplayed and still win. 

Despite the Bruins jumping out to a two-goal lead in Game 4 and eventually having a three-goal lead in the third period, they had little business winning that game. They had one good line (the top line of Patrice Bergeron between Brad Marchand and Danton Heinen) and one good defensive pair (the top pair of Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy). The power play came through, as did David Pastrnak when Bruce Cassidy took advantage of a Toronto icing by throwing No. 88 out there with Bergeron and Marchand. 

But where the aforementioned players held their own, others merely held on. According to naturalstattrick.com, Toronto had 47 scoring chances — second-most by any team this postseason — in Game 4. Boston had 26. Here's the breakdown for the series in all situations, with even-strength chances in parentheses: 

Tuukka Rask gave up a terrible goal to the very much not-back Auston Matthews Wednesday, but look at that figure. If Rask were actually playing substandard, this wouldn't be much of a series at all. It would be 3-1 and Toronto fans would be fainting at the realization that their team was actually accomplishing something. 

That's not what's happening, however, and Rask has played to a .921 save percentage. That isn't the .928 it would be if he made a routine save off Matthews in Game 4, but it's solid. It ranks sixth among the 16 starters this postseason. 

So the goalie hasn't been bad. The original iteration of the Bergeron line was more dormant than bad before being broken up (the only game of the first three in which it didn't carry possession was Game 2, which the Bruins won) and David Krejci has at points been the Bruins' best player. Charlie Coyle has served his purpose in actually giving the Bruins a third line. The fourth line couldn't get Sean Kuraly (game-time decision for Game 5) back soon enough. 

So now the series heads back to Boston, where Bruce Cassidy can see to it that Pastrnak is freed from Jake Muzzin, as he was in Game 4 with the top-six jumbled. Game 5 is where the loss of Nazem Kadri should theoretically hurt the Leafs the most it has so far, as Boston can control the matchups and pick on what it deems to be weaker lines. Then again, it would be hard to call any of Toronto's lines "weak" given the team's offensive domination in Game 4. 

As such, Cassidy should keep Pastrnak and Krejci together. On one hand, it will leave either Marchand or Pastrnak to play unencumbered by Toronto's top D pair. On the other, it provides more balance against a team that on paper shouldn't have depth in its favor. The swing of the series going back to Boston, plus Boston potentially having a fourth line could move the needle back in the Bruins' favor. 

If the Bruins are to beat Columbus in the next round, they'll need long trips to the offensive zone with sustained pressure. Hanging on for dear life around No. 40 is a much harder path.

Now would be a nice time to correct the course. 

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