This time — at least for now — 4-1 was a good score for the Toronto Maple Leafs in Boston.
In an impressive Game 1 showing for the road side, the Leafs did something they hadn’t been able to do in either of their series against Boston in 2018 or 2013 and won the first game. According to Natural Stat Trick, Toronto out-chanced the Bruins 27-24 at 5-on-5 and the Bruins’ defence gave up a few uncharacteristic opportunities — including a shorthanded breakaway to Mitch Marner, which turned into a converted penalty shot.
Zdeno Chara looked outclassed, while Frederik Andersen looked fresh and in prime condition. Things couldn’t have gone much better for the Maple Leafs.
“I think maybe we thought it was going to be a little bit easier than it was out there,” Boston’s Brad Marchand said after the game. “We were trying to play too much of a controlled style, where that’s not really our game. So we’ve just got to play a little faster.”
Early on, this game looked like it may play out similarly to other playoff matches between the two. Boston got on the board first less than halfway through the opening period on a Patrice Bergeron goal. But something was off for the Bruins.
Their usual strength in the puck management department was lacking as Toronto earned 19 takeaways — six more than any other team recorded in their opening game of the playoffs. This led to the Leafs dominating in transition and getting a few high quality chances off the rush and a couple clear breakaways on Tuukka Rask.
“Obviously a lot of stuff we didn’t do tonight,” Patrice Bergeron said. “It was nothing we didn’t expect, I guess. They’re a team that works hard and gets their chances by putting the puck on net and converging. I think we didn’t take care of the blue lines, that’s where we got caught many times, and against a team like them, they’re going to capitalize and get some momentum out of it.”
Added Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy: “Our puck management issues today cost us in a lot of different areas in the game, and whether it was us or them or a combination of both — you can dissect it any way you want — it really had an effect on giving them a lot of energy both with their legs and physicality.”
We should expect a better Bruins effort when Game 2 goes Saturday night at 8:00 p.m. ET. Boston hadn’t lost two regular season home games in a row since Jan. 10 and 14 against Washington and Montreal.