Published On: Tue, Apr 24th, 2018

3 factors that will decide Game 7 between Bruins, Maple Leafs

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After the Bruins initially seemed poised to wrap up their first-round matchup with the Maple Leafs in four, Toronto clawed its way back to force a winner-take-all Game 7 on Wednesday night in Boston.

This series has been similar to the first-round meeting between these two clubs in 2013, with the Bruins taking a 3-1 stranglehold once again, only to see the Leafs even things up in Game 6. Maple Leafs fans are painfully aware of how that series ended, but a new year brings new hope.

Leafs-Bruins is the only opening-round series to go the full seven games in 2018, with the winner set to face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round. Here are the three keys to Game 7:

Can Toronto contain Boston’s top line?


The biggest key for the Maple Leafs is the same one that’s been true all series long: Contain the Bruins’ top line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak.

The three laid waste to the Maple Leafs in the first two games of the series, putting up a combined 20 points. After six games, the trio has combined for 23 points and a whopping 64 shots. However, as seen below, the Maple Leafs managed to contain the Bruins’ top line in Games 3, 5, and 6 – and, not surprisingly, skated off with the W in those contests:

Game # Pastrnak Points Marchand Points Bergeron Points
1 3 2 1
2 6 4 4
3 0 0 0
4 2 1 DNP
5 0 0 0
6 0 0 0

On the flip side, Bergeron, Marchand, and Pastrnak need to rekindle some of their magic from Games 1 and 2 if the Bruins hope to advance beyond Wednesday.

Andersen vs. Rask

After getting off to what seemed like a very uneven start to the series, the Maple Leafs – spearheaded by Frederik Andersen – have evened out the battle in the crease.

Both goalies have three wins – Andersen has one fewer loss due to the time of his pull in Game 2 – and each have been yanked at one point in the series. Rask, however, has allowed two fewer goals across 19 extra minutes.

Goalie W L GAA SV% Times Pulled
Rask 3 3 2.74 .909 1
Andersen 3 2 3.30 .909 1

Andersen has one-upped Rask during the last four games, however, having put up a .936 save percentage and a 2.28 goals-against average, compared to the Boston netminder’s marks of .894 and 3.18, respectively.

But with this series down to just one game, and potentially one goal, whichever team moves onto Round 2 will be largely contingent on who stands larger in the crease.

Discipline


After the Maple Leafs nearly gave up their 4-1 lead to the Bruins in Game 5 on the back of a parade of penalties, Mike Babcock preached the importance of discipline ahead of Game 6

“Stay out of the penalty box. We were in there, if I’m not mistaken, six times (in Game 5),” Babcock said. “The game was going perfect and then there was a parade to the box. Stay out of the penalty box.”

The Bruins’ power play is currently firing at a success rate of 31.6 percent, good enough for the second-best mark in the postseason. That means the Maple Leafs, in response, are icing the second-worst penalty kill.

The Bruins have capitalized on six of their 19 power plays. And of those six goals, two have stood up as game-winners.

What’s more concerning for the Maple Leafs is that they’ve taken 16 of those 19 penalties in games played in Boston, and all six of the Bruins’ power-play goals have come at TD Garden.

It’s also important to point out that the Maple Leafs’ power play has been no slouch, either. With a 23.1 percent success rate, Toronto’s power play is tied for the fifth-best efficiency and it’s been even better on the road, firing at a 25 percent clip.

With that being said, James van Riemsdyk has been the only Maple Leaf to score a power-play goal in this series (he has three), so now’s the time for Toronto to get a little more from its special teams.

(Photos courtesy: Action Images)



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