The lyrics from a Herman’s Hermits song “second verse, same as the first” pretty much summed up the Toronto Maple Leafs 2nd visit to the TD Gardens in the last month, Saturday evening.
The once again “mystical” force the Bruins hold over the Maple Leafs was on full display throughout most of the game Saturday evening.
The sad part for the Leafs was, it wasn’t even Toronto killer David Pastrnak who did the damage, although he did have two assists in the 6-3 drubbing the Bruins handed the visitors. The Bruins second liners had their way, setting the stage from the opening faceoff against the talented Maple Leafs with a playoff type physical game wasting no time with a cross checking penalty to Charlie McAvoy 13-seconds into the match. Boston chipped at the Leafs every chance they got, sending a strong message they better be prepared teams will stop them anyway they can.
Yes it was the usual Bruins nonsense at the Garden with late hits, chirping and in your face play, but it was effective and had the Leafs off their game, hurrying passes, sloppy play and turning the puck over in the defensive zone.
Frederik Andersen had an off night, while Jaroslav Halak seems to save his best for the Leafs, although he gave up three goals when the game was out of reach.
The game did have a couple ugly moments but that’s to be expected when the Bruins are involved. The hard playing Zach Hyman took a major for an interference call half way through the third and after a cheap shot crosscheck from Matt Grzelcyk dropped the gloves. With the game in hand Boston’s Chris Wagner ran at Toronto’s Morgan Reilly a minute later and Ron Hainsey came to his defense.
The Leafs took a few lazy penalties and although only gave up one goal while short handed still chased the game.
Every team goes through stretches like this, but the young Leafs better realize opponents are adjusting to their speed by not chasing them but rather slowing them down with physical play. They’ll also frustrate the Leafs by clogging the neutral zone, forcing them to play the puck quicker on the power play and finishing their checks.
The Bruins did this to perfection last night.