Rick Zamperin: Why the Maple Leafs will beat the Bruins in the playoffs

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I have officially gone on record as saying the Toronto Maple Leafs will beat the Boston Bruins in the playoffs.Now before you start rolling your eyes and accuse me of being a homer, hear me out.The best-of-7 series begins Thursday night in Boston, the scene of Toronto’s Game 7 collapse last year — as well as the infamous ’18-wheeler’ in 2013. If the Leafs hope to win their first series in 15 years they have to check off a number of boxes.Story continues below


Nuetralize Boston’s top line:First and foremost, if Toronto allows Boston’s top line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak to dominate like they did in last year’s 7-game series, then the Leafs can forget about advancing past the first round. The talented trio combined for 30 points against the Leafs in the series last year and have accumulated 260 points in 2018-19.Having third-line centre Nazem Kadri, who was suspended for three games for boarding Boston’s Tommy Wingels in their series last year, in the lineup will help keep the Bruins’ No. 1 line from scoring at will.READ MORE: Gardiner anxious for rematch with BruinsGet past their mental block:Not many people are picking the Leafs to win this season despite having only three fewer wins than the Bruins this season and seven less points. Hockey pundits have poked holes in Toronto’s defence corps, raised an eyebrow to goalie Frederik Anderson’s statistics since March 11 (3-3-3, 3.50 goals against average, .842 save percentage), and continuously reference the Leafs’ recent failures in the post-season, including their past two Game 7 collapses at TD Garden.At some point in this series, Leafs players will use all this adversity as motivation. Scoring the first goal in the series and winning Game 1 would be an enormous mental boost for Toronto. In NHL history, teams winning Game 1 win the series 63 per cent of the time.“It’ll be a priority for both teams to put some wear and tear on the other team’s D and spend some time in the offensive zone. I don’t think there’s a whole lot of secret about that, we’ve just got to do a good job.”Mike Babcock on the importance of the forecheck. #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/RvFUjW3bej— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) April 11, 2019
The John Tavares factor:The Maple Leafs made the biggest free agent splash in NHL history last summer when they signed center John Tavares to a seven-year, $77 million contract. After scoring 47 goals this year — the highest single-season total by a center in team history — Tavares will be counted upon to provide added scoring punch against the Bruins. If Boston sets out to try and minimize the line of Tavares, leading scorer Mitch Marner and Zach Hyman, will the B’s be able to do the same against Auston Matthews, Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson?Calgary Flames fans will have to cough up serious cash for playoff tickets Rick Zamperin: Why the Maple Leafs will beat the Bruins in the playoffshttps://globalnews.ca/news/5153052/rick-zamperin-why-the-maple-leafs-will-beat-the-bruins/