The Toronto Maple Leafs faces a huge challenge in the first round of the playoffs as they will play the Boston Bruins and game one will be played at TD Garden on Wednesday night. The Leafs will have to battle both the Bruins and the Boston fans. You can bet that crowd will be loud.
“They’re (Boston) a great team,” said Leaf’s head coach, Randy Carlyle in a press conference following morning practice today.
Carlyle also said he’s not too concerned about the team they’re playing in the first round. “Our focus has been to prepare our group to play a certain style.”
I think Carlyle is right. Why worry what the Boston Bruins are going to do when the post season hasn’t even started yet. His job as a coach is to prepare his team for any challenge they’ll face. Discouragement will not help them.
In fact, there are five positive things the Leafs got going for them upon entering the series. They led the Bruins in goals for (6th, 145), power play goals (10th, 31 in 166 power play opportunities), power play percentage (14th, 18.67), power play goals against (2nd, 19), and penalty killing percentage (2nd, 87.90) during the regular season. One other thing, Boston was dead last this year in power play goals this year (18 in 122 power play opportunities).
Despite the stats, I don’t know if the Leafs have the depth to compete against this powerful Boston squad. The Bruins finished the regular season with the sixth best winning percentage, while Toronto finished tenth in that category. Also, in recent years, the Leafs have had trouble beating the Bruins in the regular season.
Luckily, the Leafs have two days to prepare. We won’t get a clear picture of how good this Leaf squad is until maybe game two, but if Boston comes out with a solid defense, good goal tending, the Leafs may find themselves in trouble. This is going to be a tough series and maybe a very heated one.
However, the post season has always been unpredictable. Look what happen last year at this time. No one thought the Los Angeles Kings were going to make the finals, let alone win the Stanley Cup. When it comes to the playoffs, anything can happen.