For the third time since 2013, the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs will have a Game 7 in Boston to decide their First Round series.
Down 3-2 in the series, Boston took Game 6 on Sunday 4-2 to force a Game 7 back in Boston with the help of Brad Marchand’s two goals.
Here are a few things to watch for in tonight’s Game 7 between the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs.
Who Wins Special Teams:
In five of the six games played this series, the team that is more efficient on the power play wins the game.
Game 2 saw the Bruins go 1/4 on the power play compared to Toronto going 0/3, which resulted in Boston winning 4-1.
Game 3 Toronto went 2/3 on the power play compared to Boston going 1/3, the Maple Leafs won 3-2.
Game 4 Boston went 2/2 on the power play, Toronto went 1/3 and the Bruins won 6-4.
Game 5 neither team scored on the power play, however Boston had three opportunities to Toronto’s one and lost 2-1.
Game 6 Boston once again went 2/2 on the power play with the Maple Leafs going 0/3 and won 4-2.
If Boston’s power play unit can get going tonight, Toronto is in trouble, however if the Bruins’ power play struggles and the Maple Leafs can sneak a few goals in, we could be seeing a Toronto Columbus Second Round Series.
Thus far in the series, Tuuka Rask and Frederik Andersen have both been solid between the pipes.
Rask has a save percentage of .921 and a goals against average of 2.54, both sixth best in the playoffs.
Andersen is right above Rask in fifth with a save percentage of .925, however has the eleventh best goals against average of 2.70.
With many people skeptical of Tuuka Rask remaining solid in net due to him having a history of allowing a few weak goals when the Bruins could use it the least, this has to be an area of concern for some Bruins fans.
To Boston’s benefit, they do have Jaroslav Halak as a back up who has well exceeded what was expected of him if Rask does start to have a shaky Game 7 tonight.
However in this series neither Rask nor Andersen have been the problem, all I am expecting to see is another strong performance from both as these two Original Six Teams battle to advance to the Second Round against a resting Blue Jackets team.
Offensive Scoring Power:
Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak are arguably the most dangerous line in the NHL this season combining for a total 260 points.
So far this series Brad Marchand leads the team with nine points, with Pastrnak at six points, and Bergeron at four points.
Boston’s best chance to stay alive in the playoffs is if this line gets scoring, along with secondary scorers Krejci, DeBrusk, Krug, and McAvoy all stepping up.
David Krejci, and Torey Krug each have four points, along with McAvoy adding three points.
On the other side, Toronto is definitely fit to have an offensive explosion if allowed.
Austin Mathews is currently on fire, scoring five goals in the last four games, along with Morgan Reilly on Defense racking up five points himself.
Mitch Marner, and John Tavares each have added four points a piece, however have a plus-minus of -3, and -4 respectively.
With the combination of Mathews, Tavares, Marner, Nylander, Kapanen, and Johnsson, the Maple Leafs can take control of a game extremely quickly.
Worth noting is that trade deadline acquisition Jake Muzzin has two assists in six games this playoffs, however has a -6 plus-minus rating which is exactly what a Defenseman does not want.
The three keys to Game 7 tonight are special teams, goaltending, and which team can get their offensive power going in five-on-five play.
Puck drop for Game 7 tonight is at 7:00 PM ET in Boston between the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
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