The Toronto Maple Leafs whiffed on an excellent opportunity to even their opening-round series against the Boston Bruins on Thursday.
The Bruins were without Patrice Bergeron, their heart-and-soul, first-line center, in Game 4 due to the fact that of an upper-body injury. But the Bruins persevered, taking benefit of two risky defensive pinches to skate away with a 3-1 victory at the Air Canada Centre and a 3-1 series lead as the first-round matchup returns to Boston for Game 5 on Saturday.
” We were established quite good,” Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock stated of Bergeron’s lack. “We didn’t take advantage of it.”
The Bruins did a skillful job keeping Bergeron’s injury a secret. He didn’t skate in the early morning, but he remained in the dressing room answering questions from press reporters later.
Boston beats Toronto 3-1, Brad Marchand scores consent objective in 2nd period. 1:47
When the Boston struck the ice for its pregame skate, the Bruins exposed on their Twitter account that Bergeron, chosen earlier in the week for the Selke Trophy as the very best defensive forward, would miss out on Game 4.
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy reported after the game Bergeron has been dealing with this injury for a while, but that he was hoping to play in Game 5.
The late-breaking drama didn’t leave the Maple Leafs much time to get ready for Bergeron’s lack. And then a best storm established early for the checking out team.
Caught in pinch
Just 28 seconds in, Bruins defenceman Torey Krug drifted a drifter from the point that Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen didn’t see since of a Riley Nash screen, offering Boston the early 1-0 advantage.
The Maple Leafs recovered to pull even with a goal from second-line centre Tomas Plekanec. After that, Toronto took control of the game.
The Maple Leafs enjoyed an exceptional middle duration, particularly from the awesome Mitch Marner. He was identified, but there was no go-ahead goal.
Rather, late in the 2nd duration, Toronto defenceman Jake Gardiner got captured on a pinch and the play resulted in a two-on-one objective by Brad Marchand from linemate David Pastrnak. On the pinch, centre Auston Matthews ran out position to assist out his aggressive defenceman.
Matthews was captured once again when Maple Leafs defenceman Travis Dermott got caught on a pinch early in the 3rd period, resulting in a similar two-on-one objective, this time from Boston left winger Jake DeBrusk.
The Bruins have actually been the more the identified team in this series and have exposed the weaker Maple Leafs defence with their speed and skill. But Toronto hasn’t assisted its cause with an absence of surface around Boston goalie Tuukka Rask.
There is no doubt Rask was impressive once again. He made 31 saves, including a show-stopper on Patrick Marleau on a two-on-one after a dandy pass from Marner, and once again on a Marner breakaway.
Rask now sports a solid.926 save percentage. While Rask was the Bruins’ best player, it was easy to observe the Bruins didn’t miss out on a beat with Riley Nash in place of Bergeron in between Marchand and Pastrnak.
When Bergeron was out for 13 video games late in the season since of a damaged foot, it was Nash who was promoted to the Bruins’ top line and he played well.
Nash, 28, was a first-round choice (21st overall) by the Edmonton Oilers in 2007. The Oilers weren’t pleased when the Kamloops, B.C., native decided to return for his third year at Cornell University, so he was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes in 2010 and wound up in Boston as an unlimited free-agent two years back.
On the other side, Matthews’ middling play likewise was noticeable. If the Maple Leafs want to extend the series, the big sophomore has to get chugging.
” The excellent thing about being a young man in playoff time is you get great deals of lessons and nobody is more aware than he is right now,” Babcock said. “I’m presuming he believed he was going to come in tonight and control the video game.
The other people you’re playing against are pros, too, and they’re trying, too. There is regular season competitiveness and there is first-round Stanley Cup competitiveness and it keeps amping up the entire way through.
” We need to play better than we are right now.”