Bruins

Talking Points from the Bruins' 2-1 Game 5 loss to the Maple Leafs

Talking Points from the Bruins' 2-1 Game 5 loss to the Maple Leafs

GOLD STAR: Auston Matthews has really grown up in this series and it was the Leafs franchise center that broke open the game in the third period with a one-timer bullet from the face-off circle on a broken play. That was the go-ahead goal that snapped a defensive battle and gave the Leafs the operating room to eventually win. Matthews finished with a goal, five shots on net, six shot attempts, two takeaways, a blocked shot and a plus-2 in 17:44 of ice time. Matthews has four goals in five games in the series and has been the difference-maker this time around that he wasn’t last spring vs. Boston.

BLACK EYE: It’s the Bruins for failing to capitalize on three power-play chances they had after routinely winning games with their special teams in the regular season. The first two power plays actually featured some pretty good scoring chances and decent pressure on the Leafs penalty kill that they’ve solved the past few seasons. But on Friday night, they couldn’t push a puck past Freddie Andersen on the first two PP chances, and then they had one final, dreadful power-play chance in the second period after Mitch Marner had tossed a puck over the benches and into the stands for a delay of game. Given their struggles to score 5-on-5 this season everybody knew Boston’s PP was going to have to be huge for them in the playoffs, and it let them down in a big way in Game 5.

TURNING POINT: Clearly, the Matthews goal. It was a one-timer bullet from the weak side, but it was also a possible case for goalie interference as Zach Hyman backed into Tuukka Rask after cross-checking Charlie McAvoy in front of the net. Hyman definitely nudged Rask before the Matthews shot arrived and by the letter of the law, it could have been interference. But it seemed as if the league officials thought that Rask wasn’t going to make that save anyway and truth be told he probably wasn’t based on the play and who was shooting the puck. Still, that won’t, - and shouldn’t - stop Bruins fans from being pissed about it.

HONORABLE MENTION: Kasperi Kapanen was another Leafs forward who came to play and finished with a goal and two points while also ending up what proved to be the winning goal. Kapanen finished with the two points, a plus-2, six shot attempts, three hits and some of the few offensive plays made in a defensive showdown. The fact that Matthews and Kapanen come away as two of the Leafs offensive stars in a grimy defensive grudge match tells you plenty about the Maple Leafs' as playoff performers from one year ago. If Toronto is going to advance. then it’s largely on the backs of these young guys finally growing into their own.

BY THE NUMBERS: 3-20 – The Bruins record in a best-of-seven series when they trail 3-2. The last time they won Games 6 and 7 of a series? Their Stanley Cup Final victory in 2011.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “It’s either interference or it’s not. He backs into Tuukka. From my viewpoint, it certainly looked like interference, but it didn’t go our way.” –Bruce Cassidy on the third-period Matthews goal that invited controversy when Hyman bumped into Rask prior to the puck arriving. But a goalie interference challenge was waved off by the NHL. 

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Brad Marchand: David Backes has 'been such a huge part of our group'

Brad Marchand: David Backes has 'been such a huge part of our group'

David Backes broke into the NHL in 2006. In 2019, he will get his first chance to play in a Stanley Cup Final.

Backes has been understandably emotional about making it to the Final, and his teammates have had nothing but good things to say about the veteran's performance during the playoffs.

"It's awesome to see the passion and emotion that he had on his face after (Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final)," said Brad Marchand per Eric Russo of BostonBruins.com. "He's been such a huge part of our group. He's such a great leader and we build so much emotion off the way that he plays. He's just such a phenomenal guy, great teammate, and he's had an incredible career.

"When you see a guy that's been around that long, he has an opportunity to play for a Cup, finally has that opportunity, it's a lot of emotion. [Patrice Bergeron] said it before. When you play in this league for a long time, you start to appreciate and understand how hard it is to win and how few opportunities you get to win the Cup."

And Marchand and Bergeron would know about that. After playing for the Cup in 2011 and 2013, the duo hadn't been back to the Final until this point. But their six-year absence pales in comparison to Backes' lack of an appearance until his 13th year in the league.

To his credit, Backes has been nothing but a model teammate this year. He struggled to a career-low 20 points in 70 regular season games and was constantly moving around in Bruce Cassidy's line combinations. But he embraced the challenge and stayed ready for action at any time, especially in the playoffs.

This postseason, Backes has logged five points in 11 games and helped the Bruins to a 9-2 record in contests he has played. The team is 3-3 without him, and it has been easy to see that the Bruins are better and more poised with the veteran in the lineup.

Oddly enough, Backes may end up play against his former team, the St. Louis Blues, in his first Stanley Cup appearance. But Backes was adamant that playing the Blues wouldn't have an impact on him.

"Wishing St. Louis well, but once our opponent is picked those well wishes will be rescinded and it's on," said Backes, per Russo. "We'll see who it is and we'll be prepared for it."

It sounds like Backes is planning on bringing emotion to the ice to continue motivating his Bruins teammates. We'll soon get to see him in action.

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final will take place on Monday, May 27 at 8:00 p.m. The game can be seen on NBC and streamed on the NBC Sports App.

Click here for the Stanley Cup TV schedule>>>

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Rask not worried about long layoff before Stanley Cup Final

Rask not worried about long layoff before Stanley Cup Final

After the Boston Bruins swept the Carolina Hurricanes in four games in the Eastern Conference Final, they were awarded a lengthy rest period. In fact, they ended up with the longest pre-Stanley Cup layoff in NHL history. They will be out of action for 11 days before they begin Game 1 of the Cup Final on Monday, May 27.

Despite the long layoff, Bruins players haven't seemed concerned about it. And goalie Tuukka Rask is among them. Rask wasn't too worried about time off when asked about the potential effects it could have on him in an interview captured by the Boston Bruins Twitter account.

It’s only as big of a challenge I guess that you make it for yourself. I just practice when we practice and then take time off when there’s days off. I think that’s it. I don’t think about hockey every day, all day. I don’t think that’s gonna do any good. I just stay sharp on the ice, do the work you need to do and then play when the puck drops. That’s about it.

That's a good attitude to have, and it's easy to see why Rask is so confident. So far this postseason, Rask has been terrific, logging a 12-5 record, a .942 save percentage, and a sterling 1.84 goals against average. But time off could impact his rhythm so the team will look to keep him sharp in the coming week.

Rask also addressed whether or not his teammates were actually giving him the silent treatment to avoid breaking his concentration.

No, I think they're just joking around. I've never really seen that.

Even if the team had been giving him the silent treatment in-game, it's unlikely that they would be able to continue that for 10 days ahead of the Stanley Cup Final. It's simply too much time to totally ignore a teammate.

Cassidy: Bruins leadership group 'second to none'>>>

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