Bruins/Leafs Game One: Leggo!

So playoffs are here and obviously I’m super excited hence the “leggo” in the title. With such a speedy shortened season, we found regular season for the Boston Bruins end Sunday. Well now it’s Wednesday and the quest for Lord Stanley’s cup has officially become. It all starts tonight and it starts against round one opponent the Toronto Maple Leafs. Eastern Conference Quarterfinals LEGGO (yes I’ve now mentioned this word three times).

Boston sits in the fourth seed for the Eastern Conference while Toronto ended up right behind them in fifth. All that separated the teams was a mere five points. Both teams had the opportunity to place higher but they stumbled to the finish of regular season losing more than winning. But it’s playoffs now so that’s all a thing of the past.

Expect Horty to be back in action TONIGHT! (Credit: Flickr/ Slidingsideways)

Let it be known that this is the first time since 1974 (14th overall) that both teams have met in Stanley Cup Playoffs aka this is a pretty big deal. I’m talking Original Six rivalry big deal!

Redemption Time:
Remember that time the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup two seasons ago? That was pretty great…no that was amazing. Remember that time they lost in the Quarterfinals to the Washington Capitals last season? Yeah, not so great. The Bruins are looking to go much further in the playoffs like Stanley Cup Finals further. But to do so they need to put the regular season slump in the past and rely on Bruins hockey to go the distance.

Toronto on the other hand is in the playoffs for the first time since the 2004 playoffs. They were eliminated that year second round thanks to the Philadelphia Flyers. That’s nine years of no playoffs aka I expect the Maple Leafs will be hungry for victory with Boston being the first victim.

Expect to hear this said quite often this week Maple Leaf’s fans. Sorry I’m not sorry in advance! One of the obvious key points in this match up will be former B’s player Phil Kessel and current B’s player Tyler Seguin. Let me refresh your memory in case you forgot. Back in September of 2009, Kessel was traded to Toronto for three draft choices, two of whom turned out to be first-rounders. Those first rounders are Seggy and rookie defenseman Dougie Hamilton, both of which have been key for the Bruins this season. In 16 games against Toronto, Seguin has 10 goals and six assists. Expect to see plenty of Kessel related signs in the TD Garden tonight and through out the series.

It’s Officially Tuukka Time:
Back in 2011, Tim Thomas was a playoff goalie god for the Bruins while Tuukka Rask was backup chillen. With Thomas out of the picture, it’s Rask in position number one for the B’s, and needless to say he has big shoes to fill. His regular season record is Vezina worthy for sure (check out my nominee preview today on Intermission Report), and I think he’ll be reliable tonight and for the rest of the playoffs for the Bruins. In his last 14 games, he hasn’t allowed more than two goals more than six times. In regular season he finished with a .929 save percentage and 5 shutouts.

Key Players Return:
Both teams will be getting some pretty necessary key scorers back from injury. For Boston, it’s Nathan Horton who has missed the past five-games with an upper body injury. Horton as we all remember was clutch for the Bruins in their 2011 Stanley Cup run and I have no doubt that he will be just as influential this time around. Jaromir Jagr should also be back in action for the B’s after missing both games this past weekend with flu-like symptoms. Jagr, the ever so amazing veteran, has been an ideal offensive fit for the B’s and should be extra beneficial during the playoffs. Toronto will have Tyler Bozak back in action who missed the last two games due to an upper body injury. Bozak finished his season with the Leafs with 12 goals and 16 assists

So tonight is Game one and with Boston having the home-ice advantage, it’s being played at the TD Garden!

Here’s a look at the rest of the schedule (so you can play your life around it like me!):
Game 2 @ Boston: Saturday May 4, 7:00pm
Game 3 @ Toronto: Monday May 6, 7:00pm
Game 4 @ Toronto: Wednesday May 8, 7:00pm
Game 5 @ Boston: Friday May 10, 7:00pm
Game 6 @ Toronto: Sunday May 12 (if needed)
Game 7 @ Boston: Monday May 13 (if needed)

Puck drops at 7pm TONIGHT and you can check out the game on NESN!

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