Bruins-Maple Leafs: Both teams waiting on a surprise hero

Tuukka Rask has been average so far in the Bruins-Maple Leafs series. (Getty Images)
Tuukka Rask has been average so far in the Bruins-Maple Leafs series. (Getty Images)

It’s the NHL playoffs so you can’t expect a sweep in any round since most games are tightly contested. For example, elsewhere in the Eastern Conference the No. 1 seeded Penguins already lost a game to the No. 8 seeded Islanders on their home ice, same with the No. 2 seeded Canadiens in their series with the Senators.

Hard work and execution usually results in playoff wins in hockey, unless a goaltender stands on his head or a team falls victim to a bad bounce or fluky play. The first two games of the Bruins-Maple Leafs first round series have been pretty straight forward: Boston dominated Game 1 and was rewarded with a 4-1 win while Toronto simply played better and outhustled the Bruins in Game 2 for a 4-2 victory.

With the stakes magnified, each game in the NHL playoffs has such added significance that you can’t make generalizations as easily as you naturally do in the regular season. A guy might have a great game and then be a ghost in the next one. Game 3 Monday night (7 p.m., NESN) at the Air Canada Centre is crucial for both teams since the Maple Leafs have a chance to take their first lead of the series while the Bruins can regain control. If Toronto wins Monday, the absolute best Boston could hope is that they close it out in six games. The odds say that the series would go seven.

David Krejci (one goal, three assists) and Milan Lucic (three assists) have been two of Boston’s better offensive players through the first two games while Joffrey Lupul and James van Riemsdyk (two goals apiece) are the only Maple Leafs with multiple points. What stands out greatly for the Bruins is that three of their better offensive players, Tyler Seguin, Patrice Bergeron and Jaromir Jagr, have combined for zero points. That surely needs to change for Claude Julien’s squad if the B’s are going to advance out of this round.

Both goaltenders have had their moments but James Reimer (1-1, 3.00 GAA, .926 save percentage, 75 saves) has been much busier than Tuukka Rask (1-1, 2.54 GAA, .904 save percentage, 47 saves) and he bounced back after a shaky Game 1 with a win in Game 2. Neither Reimer or Rask has stolen a game to this point in the series but it’s likely to happen at some point.

Follow Metro Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter @RichSlate


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