BOSTON — So that switched that was flipped on Wednesday, as the Bruins played as complete a game as they did all season, was back in the off position Saturday night. The Bruins did not look anything like the team that outworked and out matched and out scored the Toronto Maple Leafs as they suffered a 4-2 loss and allowed the Leafs to tie the series at one game a piece with the next two games in that playoff hockey starved hot bed known as the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
The team that seemed to sleepwalk through March and most of April was back in the second period of Saturday’s game as the defense was very leaky, as once again they had problems getting the puck out of their own zone as Toronto’s speedy forechecker put pressure on the Bruins, and sometimes they obliged with turnovers. Taking bad penalties and not being able to kill them, and back to scoring two goals per game. We’ve seen this movie before and all too often. The playoffs are not the time for a rerun.
Lest we forget, Toronto had a major say in how the game turned out. Leafs coach Randy Carlyle made some personnel and line changes and his team came out not looking like the stage fright playoff rookies they did in Game 1. There top players played like top players as Joffrey Lupul Scored the leafs first two goals giving them a lead they would never relinquish. But the killer goal was a breakaway-monkey off his back-goal by former Bruin Phil Kessel who was virtually invisible on Wednesday. It turned out to be the game winner as well.
Lupul said, “They’re putting a lot of attention toward Phil and shutting him down. Things aren’t going to be easy for him this series. For him to contribute a huge goal like that it’s big for us.”
When Kessel scored you could see that it wasn’t just any old playoff tally; he spread his arms wide and had a big smile, as if to say “Thank you, Boston!” It was the first goal he has scored at even strength against the Bruins since he was traded to the Leafs in September 2009.
It was these times of breakdowns by Boston that is of more concern. Three times the defense was caught up ice on odd man rushes which left a forward on defense, once Rich Peverley who was back in the lineup, and twice Milan Lucic was the lone defender.
Although the Bruins put 40 shots on goaltender James Reimer, the Leafs made sure he could see most of them as the two that did elude him were net mouth deflections. It was a much better game for Reimer as he stopped a couple of point blank shots, one from Tyler Seguin and another from Gregory Campbell, but other than that, shots were perimeter or hit the Leaf Crest.
In past seasons Boston has owned the Leafs at every turn and in every way, but from the Leafs’ win in Boston — and returning home with the fans and the City of Toronto already in delirium by making the playoffs — the Bruins had better erase Saturday nights movie and remember how they played in Game 1 because who needs a rerun of last years opening round?