Sizing up Bruins-Leafs through two games: Why it is and isn't over
Why B's-Leafs is (and isn't) over
There were plenty of questions about the Bruins and Leafs entering their first-round matchup, and we're starting to get answers after two games. Now the Bruins head to Toronto with a 2-0 series lead, while the Leafs have little room for error.
SLUMP WAS OVERSTATED
People freaked out over the Bruins going 1-3-1 over their final five games of the season, but the return of Rick Nash and the excitement of postseason hockey has suited them well. Toronto's taken over 10-minutes stretches of play here and there, but the B's have outscored the Leafs at a 12-4 clip thus far.
THE KRUG FACTOR
We know Torey Krug's playoff history: He came up from Providence as a rookie in the second round of the playoffs and scored four goals in five games. Yeah he cost them Game 1 of the Cup Final, but he was unbelievable in the earlygoing of his first postseason.
Now in his third postseason, Krug's tasked with being more than a spark plug. He needs to be great on Boston's second pairing in order to give the Bruins a shred of depth on defense. So far, he's been one of the best players in the series.
After picking up assists on two power play goals in Game 1, Krug had a three-point first period in Game 2 with two more power play assists and one on David Pastrnak's even-strength goal. He leads all postseason defensemen in scoring so far with five points.
WHY IT'S OVER
THAT LEAFS DEFENSE STINKS
The early thought heading into this series was that while Toronto's offense was stout, their defense was so bad that the Bruins would outscore them strongly enough to win the series. That couldn't have been more bang-on. Frederik Anderson got yanked after just five shots through 12:13 because Toronto needed to stop the bleeding. Even if the Leafs start scoring more, Boston's scored at least five goals a game and has the leading playoff scorer in David Pastrnak (nine points) through two games.
WHY IT'S OVER
TORONTO ICE NOT WHAT IT COULD HAVE BEEN
Nazem Kadri's suspension being for three games means that though Mike Babcock will have last line change for the next two, he'll have it without his second-line center. If Game 2's tinkering was any indication, Babcock isn't totally settled on his lines, and he's running out of time.
WHY IT ISN'T OVER
BEST SHOULD BE COMING FROM BABCOCK, MATTHEWS
Babcock made some questionable moves in Game 1, such as putting out his fourth line at the end of the second period, essentially asking for the B's to counter with their top line and score (which they did). That said, his in-game adjustments in Game 2 (most notably shaking up his lines and getting a goal out of a Hyman-Nylander-Marner trio on its first shift of the second period) did the Leafs well. He's got his work cut out for him without Kadri, but it would be dumb to rule out the best coach in the league.
Same goes for Auston Matthews. Toronto's best player scored four goals in six games last postseason. He's got none so far thanks to Zdeno Chara.
WHY IT ISN'T OVER
DEFENSE THE UNDERLYING ISSUE
The Leafs are still getting chances in front of the net, a problem that has been quelled by Tuukka Rask at times but is a problem nonetheless. Only one goal came as a result of poor play in front (the fourth line was lost and Adam McQuaid got beaten by Connor Brown), but more could be on the way if Boston doesn't tighten up around the net. If Rask doesn't make those two big stops after Toronto's second goal, this game could have been a much dicier affair.