Now, where did that come from?
The Boston Bruins limped into the post-season on the heels of a 6 games in 9 days stretch that became even more congested by the authorities literally shutting down the city, causing two games that had to be made up…
…and the Bruins blew seven of nine down the stretch, never scoring more than three goals and not giving themselves nor their fans any sense that things would be any different when Boston opened an Eastern Conference quarterfinals series with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night.
But with a couple of days off to get their minds and bodies headed in the same direction, the Bruins took the ice at TD Garden and beat the upstart Leafs like they stole something.
Wade Redden and Nathan Horton scored goals in the 1st period to give the Bruins the lead, then David Krejci and Johnny Boychuck each scored in the second to make it stick as the Bruins routed a Maple Leafs’ squad that was tasting the playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade by a final tally of 4-1.
“We just self-destructed,” Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said. “We didn’t do a lot of things right. I’ve never seen so many people fall down with nobody around them with situations with our group. Like we said, we know this going to take more than an ordinary effort, and tonight it wasn’t good enough effort.”
After Toronto forward James van Riemsdyk gave the Leafs an early 1-0 lead, Redden tied it with a blast from the top of the left circle, then moments later tried the same thing from the other side, this time Horton getting a stick on the puck to deflect it past Leafs’ netminder James Reimer for what proved to be the gamer.
The second period goals were excellent in style points, Krejci gathering in a loose puck in the crease and snapping a spinner past Reimer, then Boychuck launched a wicked wrister from just inside the blue line that beat the embroiled Toronto goalie, who stopped 36 of 40 shots as Boston kept the heat on all night.
Bruins’ stopper Tuukka Rask faced just 20 shots, handling 19 of them, some in spectacular fashion.
Game 2, scheduled for Saturday night at TD Garden, seems to carry an air of desperation for a Toronto team that has lost six straight to the Bruins in that building.
“That was a tough one to lose, especially with the start we had,” Toronto’s Nazem Kadri said. “Undisciplined turnovers played a factor, as well. We are just killing ourselves when we do those types of things.”
The Maple Leafs had better get it together before the faceoff on Saturday night, or the series will be headed back to Toronto with the home town Leafs in a 2-0 hole, inexperience an excuse that’s not going to hold up with their rabid fanbase.
“It’s a new experience for a lot of guys,” van Riemsdyk said. “That’s a telltale sign how different the level is and how things can come back to bite you.”
On Wednesday night, it was the Bruins doing the biting – the offense that had been hibernating during the stretch run awakening to do the deed…