It’s no secret that the Bruins have had their way with the Toronto Maple Leafs the past few times they’ve met in the playoffs. But that was then and this is now.
There tends to be much fixation on the playoff dominance of the Boston Bruins over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Boston has beaten Toronto the past three times they’ve met in the post-season. But what story does this really tell?
It’s known that the more something is understood, the less it can be feared. Below is a factual breakdown of the most recent playoff match-ups between these organizations.
What we see are unfortunately coincidental results for the Maple Leafs, three match-ups in a row, spread across 7 years. But what happened in the past simply does not justify pre-painting the present. Especially in today’s NHL, where the parity of the game has never been stronger.
Just ask the Tampa Bay Lightning. They won the 2019 Presidents’ Trophy after racking up 62 wins last season and soon thereafter were out of Stanley Cup contention after losing four straight to the eighth seed Columbus Blue Jackets.
Teams meeting multiple times throughout any given number of years is nothing new in this league.
For instance, between 2000-2018, in the 13 playoff appearances by the Washington Capitals they met the Pittsburgh Penguins in six of them. It wasn’t until the 2018 NHL Eastern Second Round that the Capitals were finally able to complete the page on the Penguins and carry on.
They won that series, made it into the 2018 Stanley Cup Final, and won it all. The whole narrative changed around their outdated struggles.
See, not so scary after all, Leafs fans.
It’s not to suggest that the next time the Toronto Maple Leafs beat Boston in a playoff series that they’re destined to win the Cup, but that would be a step in the right direction.
And they will bypass the Bruins in the post-season, soon enough. It could even occur this year, with the currently proposed 24-team playoff format aligning these teams to potentially meet again. That is, if Toronto can get past Columbus first.
There is no denying that the Bruins have had a stellar season, achieving a record of 44-14-12 and sitting atop the Atlantic Division.
They have a talented roster, including superstars like David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, and Torey Krug. Let alone being led by Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara, with Tukka Rask between the pipes, and a depth of talent filling out their lineup.
And none of that is being ignored. It’s simply being put into question, as anything can happen in this game, let alone throughout the playoffs. The fictional chokehold the Bruins franchise has on the Leafs fanbase will loosen its grip in due time.
Toronto didn’t have the type of success they expected this season, earning a modest record of 36-25-9. But there is also no shortage of all-star talent throughout this team. Whether it be Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares, William Nylander, Morgan Reilly, or Frederik Andersen, this roster is full of gamebreakers. They don’t struggle with depth throughout their locker room, either.
Can the Bruins beat the Leafs if they were to face each other in the playoffs this year? Of course. But are the Leafs finally able to change the narrative and become the protagonist in their own story? Absolutely.
The deciding factor will rest on which side can find a peak in their play when it matters most.
The Toronto Maple Leafs, and their fans, need to embrace that a new chapter is upon them. There should be cheering for what’s in front, not wallowing over what’s behind. Could this be the year that the Maple Leafs finally win their battle with Bruins? Only time will tell.