Their 4-2 win in Game 6, followed by their 5-1 victory in Game 7 at home marked the first time in the series that a team won two consecutive games. But in order to do so, the Bruins had to change the way they played.
How the Boston Bruins defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs
Shutting down Marner
Through the first four games of the series, Mitch Marner was the biggest problem the Bruins faced. He scored two goals and two assists in those four games. He seemed to feed off the knowledge that the Bruins could not contain him.
In the last three games of the series, the Bruins figured out how to contain him. Marner went without a point in that stretch, which contributed to Boston’s success. Even more impressive, Boston prevented Marner from recording a shot on goal in Games 5 and 6.
Bruce Cassidy deserves as much credit as some of the top skaters on this Bruins team. Shifting David Pastrnak to the second line in Game 4 was key. He showed that he wasn’t afraid to make changes to a team that finished second in the Eastern Conference.
Swapping a player with 71 playoff games for someone who had just three career playoff games is an extremely gutsy move by the head coach. But Kuhlman was effective in the spot he was placed.
On the other bench, Mike Babcock rolled with the same lineup in Game 7 as he did in Game 6. The Bruins outshot the Leafs 41-24 in the sixth game and took that 4-2 win. For a team about to play Game 7 on the road without momentum, not changing the lines may have been what lost them the series.
Patrick Marleau and William Nylander produced one assist each in the final three games and were on the same line. Their poor production wasn’t enough for Babcock to reconsider his lineup and the Bruins were all over them.
Scoring on Andersen
One of the main reasons why the Bruins didn’t pummel the Leafs is because of Frederik Andersen. The Toronto netminder allowed just 19 goals and stopped 225 shots in seven games.
On shots that would beat any other goaltender, Andersen pulled out a miraculous save to give the Leafs the best chance at grabbing a win. He was their top performer just about every night. Unfortunately for the Leafs, that does not include Game 7.
A goal that found its way through the most minuscule hole on Andersen’s glove kicked off the scoring in that final game and crushed the momentum of the Leafs. Then later in the first period, Charlie Coyle blocked his vision, allowing Marcus Johansson to score off the post — just out of Andersen’s reach.
The final goal to beat Andersen in the series was Sean Kuraly’s third period goal. His shot from the top of the face-off circle found its way above Andersen’s glove-side shoulder with only the stick of Morgan Reilly possibly in the way. If he stopped that goal, the Leafs may have had a real shot at coming back.
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