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

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

Here are Joe Haggerty's Talking Points from the Bruins' 3-2 loss to the Maple Leafs in Game 3 of the first round. 

GOLD STAR: Auston Matthews hasn’t been a big difference-maker in the postseason match-ups against the Bruins, but he was a factor on special teams in the Game 3 win over the Black and Gold. It was Matthews that scored a power play strike from a wide open spot in the face-off circle for one Leafs PP goal and then he notched the secondary assist on the second one as Boston’s penalty kill was scrambling in the defensive zone and out of position. Matthews finished with a goal and two points in 19:34 of ice time and had seven shot attempts, including four shots on net, and threw a couple of hits as well. Matthews wasn’t big of a hit during 5-on-5 play against the David Krejci line doing a solid job of holding them down, but it sure looked like special teams were starting to get his postseason game going.

BLACK EYE: Just one assist in three games during this series for David Pastrnak, who is a long way from the 13 points he put up last spring during the first round vs. the Maple Leafs while almost single-handedly blowing them up. This time around he’s got zero goals, 10 shots on net in three games and he looked on Monday night like he was a step slow while turning a lot of pucks over along with the rest of his line. It might be time for the B’s to break up that top line if it continues this way because right now it looks like the John Tavares line and the Jake Muzzin defense pairing are doing an excellent job of bottling up and frustrating Boston’s top offensive players.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins had a decent first period where they outshot the Leafs, controlled play for stretches and seemed to withstand the first big flurry from the Maple Leafs on home ice. But the second period was where things went sideways for them as the Bruins allowed three goals, including a pair of PP goals with the top PK duo of Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron on the ice, and really lost the special teams battle that they usually win against most teams. In all the Leafs rang up 16 shots on goal while building up that lead and then they actually played pretty strong defense to hold things down in the final 20 minutes against the B’s. But the game was won, or lost, in the second period.

HONORABLE MENTION:  Charlie Coyle was probably the best player on the ice for the Bruins once again as he scored a PP goal at the end of the second period to pull within a single score, and once again had Boston’s best line while centering David Backes and Danton Heinen. Coyle finished with the goal and five shot attempts to go along with three hits in 17:17 of ice time, and now has two goals in the first three games of the series while Boston’s heralded top line really hasn’t done much to this point in the series. While it’s great that Coyle and Co. are showing all kinds of life with the third line, it’s not a good sign for the B’s if they are consistently Boston’s best line during these games.

BY THE NUMBERS: 44 – the percentage of face-offs won for the Bruins as they lost 35 of 63 draws and didn’t have a single player that won more than half of his face-off chances in Monday night’s Game 3 loss.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “It’s two good lines going head-to-head. It’s going to tilt our way at some point. Our players are too good.” –Bruce Cassidy, talking about the top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak eventually breaking through offensively after a slow start to the series. 

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Stanley Cup odds 2019: Here's where Bruins stand vs. Sharks or Blues

Stanley Cup odds 2019: Here's where Bruins stand vs. Sharks or Blues

The Boston Bruins have an unprecedented 11-day break between their Eastern Conference Final-clinching win over the Carolina Hurricanes and Game 1 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final.

The B's know when (May 27)  and where (TD Garden in Boston) they'll open the  Cup Final, but they don't yet know which team will oppose them for the best trophy in sports.

The St. Louis Blues likely will be the opponent -- they lead the San Jose Sharks 3-2 entering Game 6 of the Western Conference Final on Tuesday night. But oddsmakers already have made up their minds when it comes to the favorite to win the Stanley Cup. The Bruins are the clear favorites at -145.

Check out the full odds, via Caesars Palace in Las  Vegas, in the tweet below:

These odds make sense.

The Bruins deserve to be favorites over the Sharks or Blues. Boston has more talent and a lot more Stanley Cup-winning experience than either of these two Western Conference clubs, and B's goalie Tuukka Rask is the best player at his position remaining in the playoffs. Let's not forget the Bruins have home ice advantage as well.

The Blues' goaltending and overall scoring depth probably would create a tougher for the Bruins than the Sharks, but St. Louis just doesn't have the elite-level talent or experience to be favored over Boston in a seven-game series.

Bruce Cassidy pays Bruins' leadership group a huge compliment>>>

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Bruins had many turning points this season before reaching Stanley Cup Final

Bruins had many turning points this season before reaching Stanley Cup Final

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Veteran Bruins players that have been there before always have the expectation that something special is going to happen with each and every hockey season.

Perhaps it’s just part of the culture that the Bruins have built over the last 12 years, and a key optimistic part of what’s pushed the Bruins to three Stanley Cup Final appearances over the last eight years. Certainly it’s the mindset that 42-year-old captain Zdeno Chara brings to the table every season, and has made the Bruins a playoff team in 10 of the 13 seasons that he’s been in Black and Gold.

“There are always some moments and sequences when you can look back,” said Chara, when asked if there was any moment that he knew this Bruins team had the makings of a special group. “I’ve never felt any differently this team. The team that we have is always one that I believe in. That won’t ever change. That’s the biggest thing for me.

“I always believe that the group of guys we have, the players we have, the coaches, the system and what management goes, I always believe that’s the way we go and I follow the lead that’s set by the organization. I just go and try to make the best out of it.”

But optimism was high coming off last season when the Bruins pumped 112 points out of their regular season, even if it was a little bit guarded with the knowledge that they still needed to get by a Tampa Bay Lightning juggernaut in their own division.

As circumstances would have it, the Bruins once again had an excellent regular season in 2018-19 even if it wasn’t the kind of historic campaign put together by the Lightning. Then they outlasted Toronto in the playoffs and all of a sudden people started paying much closer attention to a Bruins team that had a clear pathway to the Stanley Cup Final once Tampa, Washington and Pittsburgh all fell by the wayside in the first round of the playoffs.

But let’s not shortchange this Bruins team either. They have been one of the NHL’s best teams for most of this season, and they truly do deserve to be in the Stanley Cup Final, whether they received breaks along the way or not.

“I’m proud of the guys. We’ve earned the right to be where we are and be in the Stanley Cup Final,” said Bruce Cassidy.  “We’ve beaten three good teams. There’s a bit of unfinished business here, but I think our guys understand that there are four more steps to go here.”

They traveled all the way to China during training camp, took the Winter Classic crown when they defeated the host Blackhawks at Notre Dame’s football stadium, ripped off points in 19 straight games down the stretch and have pieced together an impressive seven-game winning streak during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Bruce Cassidy felt like the Winter Classic and the “Peaky Blinders” outfits worn by the Bruins players was a turning point moment for the B’s when things really started coming together.  

“There was the core [group] right from the beginning, right? But some of that core group wasn’t in China, so it was a lot of the young guys that had to take charge. Guys like Jake [DeBrusk] and Charlie [McAvoy] that had been here for a year got a little more vocal. I think the Winter Classic was a little bit more of a turning point if you want to look back. The whole ‘Peaky Blinders’ theme really brought the guys together, and I think that was Torey Krug’s doing if I’m not mistaken.

“But in the game itself we seemed to take off from there. That was one instance where we really came together. I think that was the first time we had probably had everybody healthy with the group we thought we’d start with at the beginning of the year. We’ve always allowed the players to kind of have that room. It’s Zee, Bergeron, Krejci and Tuukka, these guys have won a Cup. We’ve never really interfered with it too much and have always viewed it as a positive that [the players] can kind of police their own things.”

Certainly the Bruins season has been about overcoming adversity with the Bruins losing both Patrice Bergeron and Chara for an overlapping month, losing David Pastrnak toward the end of the season with a freak thumb injury and not getting a truly effective Charlie McAvoy until after the midpoint of the season. That as much as anything else has defined the Bruins over the course of this NHL regular season and steeled them against many of the things thrown underneath them over the first three rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“There are a lot of things that brought us together throughout the season,” said Brad Marchand. “The Winter Classic was a pretty special thing to go through as a group, but another one was [the trip] to China. We had a lot of fun over there as a group, and a couple of long nights and fun bus rides. Those are the things that bring you together and you look back on as building relationships. There were a lot of different things that we went through this year and things you can look back on. But it’s also something we stressed in the room and take a lot of pride in. It’s really paying off for us right now.”

No trash talk from John Tortorella “denting” Tuukka Rask was going to throw the Bruins off track, and no amount of scrutiny thrown at Brad Marchand was going to make him shrink from the big moments, even if the entire Canadian media seems to be against him at any given moment.

This Bruins team has proven time and again that they are big game performers and that they are survivors who will be there at the end of the day. Those two things as much as anything else allow the Bruins to be there still standing at the very end of the Stanley Cup playoff tournament, and lying in wait for a challenger in the Western Conference that’s going to be the underdog in the final series, no matter who it is. 

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