Preview: Maple Leafs at Bruins
The Toronto Maple Leafs are doing their best to keep their focus on the future rather than what has transpired in the past. With a pair of demoralizing Game 7 losses lining their recent history, the visiting Maple Leafs hope the third time is the charm on Tuesday when they play the winner-take-all finale of their Eastern Conference first-round series against the Boston Bruins.
Toronto's painful Game 7 history came rushing to the forefront mere moments after it dropped a 4-2 setback on Sunday, although coach Mike Babcock wasn't interested in hearing about the team's 5-4 overtime loss in Boston in 2013 or its 7-4 defeat in 2018. "I'm not a big believer of living in the past. I don't carry a lot of stuff around from the past at all," said Babcock, who has lost three straight Game 7s to fall to 3-6 in that contest in his career. While the Bruins secured home-ice advantage by finishing seven points ahead of the Maple Leafs in the regular season, Toronto has gotten the better of Boston at TD Garden in the series. "Probably the only (advantage of hosting Game 7) is home ice, but they've already won twice there," Boston forward Jake DeBrusk said. "It's one of those things, where you try and forget the past, whether it's this series or last year's series, and understand they are going to come out with everything they've got and so are we."
TV: 7 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, CBC, Sportsnet, TVAS
ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS: Defenseman Morgan Rielly answered his snub of being a Norris Trophy finalist with a goal on Sunday to extend his point streak to four games (one goal, four assists) while Auston Matthews also tallied, giving him five goals and an assist during that same stretch. Mitch Marner, however, has mustered just two assists in his last five contests after setting career highs in goals (26), assists (68) and points (94) during the regular season. "I just think the biggest thing for Mitch is you're playing against real good players and just breathe, don't spend a whole lot of time worrying about what everyone else thinks, just breathe and play hard and enjoy yourself," Babcock said on Monday.
ABOUT THE BRUINS: Although Brad Marchand collected two goals and an assist on Sunday to record his second three-point performance in three contests, the speedy forward was quick to skate past history playing a role in Game 7. "Nothing matters about the past," the 30-year-old Marchand said. "We're not going to look at anything that's happened in the past. We're going to play hard, they're going to play hard. One team is going to win, one team is going to lose." Linemate David Pastrnak set up a pair of tallies to give him five points (two goals, three assists) in his last three games, although he has just two assists in the three contests in the series at TD Garden.
1. Tuesday's winner advances to face Columbus, which swept Presidents' Trophy-winning Tampa Bay in the first round.
2. While Boston's power play is 7-for-16 in this series, Toronto has gone 3-for-14 with the man advantage overall and 0-for-5 on the road.
3. The Maple Leafs are vying for their first postseason series victory since 2004.
PREDICTION: Bruins 3, Maple Leafs 2