Tonight the Toronto Maple Leafs will play the Boston Bruins for the first game of their playoff match-up. Not only is this the first playoff game the Leafs will this season but it is the first playoff game the Leafs have appeared in in 9 years. For this reason there is a lot of anticipation surrounding this series, which should make it very exciting.
There are a few keys to success in this playoff series and the first will be goal tending This is usually what most series boil down to. The team with the best goaltender usually wins the cup, for the last two years the Conn Smythe Trophy has gone to a goalie (Jonathan Quick and Tim Thomas). In this series we have James Reimer and Tuukka Rask. These two are very similar when it comes to stats. They both have 19 wins, Reimer has a goals against average of 2.46 while Rask’s is 2.00, Reimer’s save percentage is 0.924 and Rask’s is 0.929. When it comes to goaltending it is really anyone’s game.
Another huge part of this series is going to be physical play. Boston is a physical team which means they are going to come out swinging, but the Leafs have become a very physical team this season. Leo Komarov leads the team in hits with 176 he is also fifth in the league in hits. Mark Fraser is second on the team with 153 and Dion Phaneuf is third with 131. Colton Orr leads the league in penalty minutes with 155. I think the Leafs will hold their own physically just fine.
The players to watch are the same as every Leafs and Bruins game Phil Kessel, Tyler Seguin, and Dougie Hamilton. The reasoning behind this is that the picks that allowed Boston to draft Seguin and Hamilton were acquired from Toronto for Kessel and ever since (especially now that Brian Burke is no longer GM of the Leafs) everyone has been trying to figure out who the winner of the trade was. I don’t know about anyone else but Tyler Seguin’s Stanley Cup ring tells me the Leafs lost big time. It also doesn’t help the Leafs case that Kessel checks under his bed for Zdeno Chara every night.A couple of other players to watch on the Leafs would definitely be Nazem Kadri and Joffrey Lupul. Kadri has been hot all season and I expect him to bring all that and more to the playoffs. When he has been healthy this season Lupul has been on fire and he can be considered a playoff veteran on this young team. On The Bruins I would be keeping an eye on Carl Soderberg. With all of the anticipation regarding his signing in Boston it will be interesting to see if he will live up to all the hype.
In the end I’m a Leafs fan, so I have to pick them to come out of this one, but I want to hear what you all think. Who will win the series? Who should we be keeping an eye on? What does each team need to do to win? Share your thoughts in the comment box below, on facebook, on twitter (@kcapp22 or @TMMotS), or by email ([email protected]).
Tags: Boston Bruins Carl Soderberg Colton Orr Dion Phaneuf Dougie Hamilton James Reimer Joffrey Lupul Leo Komarov Mark Fraser Nazem Kadri Phil Kessel Playoffs Stanley Cup Playoffs Toronto Maple Leafs Tuukka Rask Tyler Seguin Zdeno Chara