Chris Selley: The thrill of an NHL defeat

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Matthew Sherwood for National Post

Every playoff elimination felt like something bigger coming to an end. There was once a school of thought, especially in the pre-salary cap era, that Maple Leafs fans wouldn’t stand for a comprehensive “rebuilding” process. It never made any sense: Leafs fans will stand for anything, even if it doesn’t hold the promise of long-term gain inherent in rebuilding. I refuse to pay for regular season seats at the Air Canada Centre, whose “game experience” is akin to being periodically shouted at by a crazy person in a library. But there are millions who will stand on line. And now they finally have a reason: A young, fast, hard-hitting team, much of it developed in-house, that with significant improvement and significant additions could compete for many years to come. Much as I complained on Wednesday night about the young Leafs’ flailing 20-shot performance, I vividly remember watching a much more experienced Leafs team direct six listless shots at the New Jersey Devils to lose their second round series in 2000. I’ll take the 20 from the kids, thanks. Most of them had never played a playoff game before; the Bruins are the same basic team that won the Stanley Cup two years ago. It is true that the Leafs organization is astonishingly, infuriatingly full of itself. The team is “the passion that unites us all,” we are told. source:

NHL 2013 playoffs preview: Bruins-Maple Leafs excites traditionalists

Even though he was gone just about half the year thanks to an injury, Sens goalie Craig Anderson still posted a 1.96 GAA and .941 save percentage. If the Sens manage to get star defenceman Erik Karlsson back in the lineup at some point early on, that could give Ottawa a big morale boost (not to mention a nice infusion of talent right when they need it most). Should be a good series, and the Sens could surprise. Prediction: Almost too close to call, really. Let’s say Ottawa surprises and takes it in 7. Boston Bruins (4) vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (5) This will be a great series for a few reasons, including the fact that it’s an Original Six rivalry. It’s also the first time the Leafs have been in the playoffs for the first time in nine years. So, expect the crowds to be heavily invested in this one, and expect the games to get pretty physical right from the start. This is also a series that Boston will probably be expected to win, thanks to having beaten the Leafs three of four games this year. source:

Boston Bruins open NHL playoffs with 4-1 win over Toronto Maple Leafs

Mike Loftus

If they’d had a better record than 15-4-4 when taking a lead into the third period, in fact, they would have finished first in the Northeast Division and been seeded second in the Eastern Conference. No matter – at least, not Wednesday night. The B’s turned a break at the end of the first period into a 2-1 lead, built on the lead in the second, then dominated the third to secure a 4-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 1 of the best-of-7 conference semifinals. “We’ve turned the page” on regular-season issues, coach Claude Julien said. “So did we come in in the second and third (periods) and say ‘Are we going to hold this lead? Are we going to do this?’ “The first period was over and we were already talking about the second period, how we had to stick with our game plan. The guys did a great job of that. Same thing with the third period: We didn’t look at the scoreboard; we looked at our play.” Their play resulted in a 40-20 gap in shots over the Leafs, who actually put up the series’ first goal when James van Riemsdyk scored during a power-play scramble after just 1:54. The B’s stayed calm and gradually took over, eventually taking the lead behind a playoff essential – contributions from role players. Wade Redden , who watched seven of eight games from the press box after the Bruins obtained him from St. Louis in a depth/insurance deal on April 2, banged a shot through leaky Toronto goalie James Riemer to make it 1-1 with 3:40 left in the first, after a great dump-and-chase by the fourth line of Daniel Paille , Gregory Campbell (both had assists) and Shawn Thornton . Redden chipped in again in the last minute of the first. source:

Maple Leafs captain Phaneuf expects better Game 2

But the Maple Leafs captain knows his club must play a lot better if it intends to get even with the Bruins in their best-of-7 series on Saturday in Game 2 at TD Garden. The Bruins won almost every facet of the series opener, outshooting their opponent 40-20 on the way to a 4-1 victory before 17,565 rowdy fans. “We’ve got a character group in here; we’ve had our setbacks during the year and we’ve responded well, so there’s no time to hang your head,” Phaneuf said. “You’ve got to get right back at it [Thursday] and [Friday] at practice and get ready for Saturday.” Phaneuf scoffed at the notion that playoff inexperience played a part in his team’s meltdown after scoring the first goal of game. The Bruins connected for two goals late in the first before scoring two more in the second. “I think that’s easy to say that, if that’s the way you want to break it down,” he said. “I think that’s an excuse, but we haven’t been saying that in there. That was obviously brought up by [the media]. The bottom line is when you get out there, it’s the same game. The intensity is amped up but these are huge games.” source:

The Maple Leafs Bring Playoff Fever Back to Toronto


Building a casino. Toll roads. Opinion on polarizing mayor Rob Ford. Traffic solutions. All that aside, right now, the city is one. The Leafs are in. Strangers can talk to one another. They can empathize with one another. They can share their worries and invest their faith in the same stock. This, and complaints about the cold weather, are the two forces that best link the people of this great city. The people were cheated of this for the past nine years. Dave Sandford/Getty Images In 1993, the people of the city were never closer. source:

NHL Playoff Preview: Boston Bruins vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

Dennis Seidenberg, who was plus-18, is underrated and Dougie Hamilton (plus-4) has proven to be one of the few 19-year-olds who doesn’t look out of place on an NHL blue line. Tim Thomas led the Bruins to the Stanley Cup two years ago, but he’s no longer in Boston. However, Tuukka Rask has helped Bruins fans forget about Thomas with his performance this season, posting a 19-10-5 record with a 2.00 GAA and .929 save percentage. Leafs – Captain Dion Phaneuf, who averaged 25:10 of ice time, will play a key role for the Leafs and will be counted on for offence from the back end as well as physical play and will be matched up against the Bruins’ top line. Nazem Kadri has finally showed why the Leafs selected him in the first round (seventh overall) of the 2009 draft, posting 18-26-44 totals and a plus-15. The Bruins have a lot of depth at the forward position with seven players topping double-digits in goals, led by Brad Marchand with 18. Former Bruin Phil Kessel led the Leafs in scoring with 20-32-52 totals, but was minus-3. WEAKNESSES Leafs – This is the first appearance in the postseason for the Leafs since 2004, when they lost to the Philadelphia Flyers in the second round. The Leafs are the only team that hadn’t qualified for the playoffs since the 2004-05 lockout. The Leafs can be shaky on the blue line at times, which is why they acquired Ryan O’Byrne at the trade deadline for added size and depth. Toronto gave up an average of 2.67 goals per game this season, ranking 17th in the NHL. source:


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