Maple Leafs at Bruins Picks and Game 2 NHL Odds
by Alan Matthews - 5/4/2013
At least the Toronto Maple Leafs are in the playoffs for the first time in nine years and provide a welcome distraction from the gigantic flop that is the Blue Jays. However, the Leafs apparently weren't ready for the increase in intensity in the postseason as they were dominated 4-1 Wednesday night in Boston in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals between the Original Six rivals. It's their first postseason meeting in 39 years.
Things looked great for Toronto when James van Riemsdyk scored on a power play at 1:54 for an early 1-0 lead, but it went downhill quickly. Boston had the lead by the end of the first period, and it was 4-1 entering the third, meaning the game was already over. The Bs have 17 players on the roster who were on the Cup-winning team of two years ago, while Toronto has 15 who are in their first postseason. David Krejci was named the No. 1 star in the opener with a goal and two assists. Tuukka Rask had 19 saves in his first playoff start since 2010.
Toronto still can go home satisfied with a split if it can bounce back in Game 2 on Saturday night. The puck drops at 7 p.m. and can be seen in the USA on CNBC.
Leafs at Bruins Betting Story Lines
Maybe we should have seen Toronto's loss coming as it struggled down the stretch by losing four of six. Former Bruin and team-leading scorer Phil Kessel (20 goals, 32 assists) closed the year with points in the final five games and goals in the last three, but the Bruins totally bottled him up as Kessel finished with a single shot on goal, and he only played 13:51. He is scoreless in five games against Boston this year. The Bruins usually make sure that 6-foot-9 star defenseman Zdeno Chara is on the ice whenever Kessel is. Kessel has just nine points in 23 total games against his former team and is minus-22.
The Leafs were outshot 40-20 and committed a whopping 10 penalties (they were outshot by almost 11 shots per game in April). Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said “there will be changes” to the lineup for Game 2, but there's not a lot he can do -- by comparison, the ultra-deep Bruins had star rookie defenseman Dougie Hamilton watching from the press box as a healthy scratch. Toronto defenseman Cody Franson left Game 1 in the second period with an undisclosed injury and is questionable for Saturday. It's the playoffs, so I'm sure he plays. Franson had an assist in Game 1 and four goals and 25 assists during the season.
Krejci, meanwhile, is money in the playoffs. Wednesday was the fifth career postseason game of three or more points for Krejci, all over the past four years. No other NHL player has more than four such games over that span. He was the offensive star of the 2011 Cup team. Krejci did little to close the regular season with a total of three points in the final 13 games.
Look for a very physical Game 2 as things got quite chippy at the end of the opener, including a fight between Chris Kelly and Leo Komarov. Boston defenseman Andrew Ference also hit Toronto's Mikhail Grabovski with an elbow to the head during the game, and it would be a shock if Ference isn't suspended for at least Game 2 (hearing was later Thursday). He had 13 points during the regular season and was plus-1 with three shots on goal in 19:36 of ice time in Game 1. Either Hamilton or Aaron Johnson likely would take Ference's place if the NHL hands down punishment. Ference has been suspended before.
Leafs at Bruins NHL Game 2 Betting Odds and Key Trends
At BookMaker, Boston has been opened at -185 and Toronto +165 with the total at 5. The Leafs were 23-20-5 “over/under” this season (11-10-3 on road) and are 2-3 in their past five as a dog, including the series opener. The Bruins were 16-28-4 O/U this season (8-14-2 at home) and are 2-3 in their past five as a favorite including the series opener.
The Bruins are 12-5 in their past 17 when their opponent scores two goals or fewer in its previous game. Boston is 1-4 in its past five vs. a team with a winning record. It is 3-7 in its past 10 playing on two days of rest. The under is 5-2-2 in Toronto's past nine road games. The over is 11-5 in Toronto's past 16 following a loss of three or more goals. The under is 4-2-2 in Boston's past seven home games. The under is 8-2 in Boston's past 10 playing on two days of rest. The over is 9-3-2 in the past 14 meetings. The Leafs are 0-6 in the past six in Boston.
Leafs at Bruins Picks and Game 2 Betting Predictions
This rivalry just isn't one of late. The Bruins are now 27-6-5 in their last 38 games against Toronto and 12-1-1 in their last 14 in Beantown. And if the Bruins start hitting on the power play, forget it. They were No. 26 in the NHL in power-play percentage during the year and had eight total PP goals at home (worst in NHL) but were 1-for-5 in Game 1. The opener could have been a lot worse for Toronto. James Reimer was actually pretty good in net for the Leafs, but Boston also had two goals called back. The Leafs defense must improve.
The Bruins were able to flip the switch in Game 1 after struggling for about the last 20 percent of the regular season. I expect the Leafs to be much better with a postseason game under their belts, but they aren't going to win in Boston. Take the Bs and the under.
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