Bruins, Leafs renew rivalry in playoffs
That was five years ago and the Original Six rivals meet in the playoffs again for the first time since, playing Game 1 of their Eastern Conference series at TD Garden on Thursday night.
“As a Leaf fan, it was tough,” Toronto’s Mitch Marner, 16 when his team lost to the Bruins in 2013, said.
“It was hard to deal with,” said Nazem Kadri, who made it 4-1 with 5:39 left in the third of that fateful game and is one of five Leafs still with the team.
“Nothing’s changed in terms of Boston being a resilient group. They’ve got some veteran guys over there that have some serious experience.
“It’s going to take all we’ve got, but we’re up for the challenge.”
The Maple Leafs finished third in the Atlantic Division, their 49-26-7 record leaving them seven points behind the second-place Bruins, who missed the chance to win the division and the top seed in the Eastern Conference with a loss to the Florida Panthers on Sunday night.
The injury-plagued Bruins went 1-3-1 over the last five games.
“We won 50 games, and I think the body of work speaks that this team deserves to be where we are, and we focus on Thursday night,” said Bruins general manager Don Sweeney.
Toronto won three of the four games between the teams during the regular season, one of them in overtime.
Rask, 30-23 with a 2.12 goals-against average and .928 save percentage lifetime in the playoffs, was in goal for the seven-game 2013 win. He is 16-7-2 with a 2.14 GAA and .925 save percentage in the regular season against the Leafs and also went 4-3 against them in those playoffs.
Amid theories he was overused, Maple Leafs netminder Fredrick Andersen struggled with an .884 save percentage in March but then won twice in April. He has also owned the Bruins throughout his career with Anaheim and Toronto, going 10-1-0 with a 2.09 GAA and .935 save percentage against Boston.
He won 38 games and pitched five shutouts (Rask had three) during the regular season and is 19-13 with a 2.41 GAA and .915 save percentage lifetime in the playoffs. Andersen lost twice in Game 7s that would have sent the Ducks to the finals.
“If you lose a game or let in a goal … you’ve got to have a short memory and be able to get back on track and just do what you try every time there’s a puck in your end,” Andersen said Monday. “Just try to make a save. You can’t dwell on anything. Just make the next one.
“We’ve been growing as a team through the year. It’s going to be exciting.”
The Bruins appear to be healthier than they have been in a month — so healthy that rookie Ryan Donato, signed late and an offensive factor for the team down the stretch, is slated to be a healthy scratch for Game 1.
Boston center Riley Nash (ear) will miss the opener.