Some quick thoughts on last night’s thumping:
- Really, this was pretty much a perfect start by the Bruins. Sure, they allowed a goal. But they controlled the game for 58 of the 60 minutes, scored four times (five if you want to count Bergeron’s waved-off goal), and generally outworked the Leafs in every aspect of the game. They didn’t take any dumb penalties (I’m looking at you, Colton Orr), shut down Phil Kessel, planted plenty of seeds of doubt in James Reimer’s had, and had some Leafs fans on Twitter acting like the series was already over. The B’s couldn’t have done much better last night.
- With that said, let’s not get carried away: the series is far from over. Fans need only look to last year, when the B’s won their first game against the Caps, only to eventually lose the series. The playoffs are a difficult beast to figure out, but it was good to see the B’s come out firing on all cylinders.
- I’ve often referred to Milan Lucic as the engine that drives the B’s. While that may be true, it’s grown more clear that David Krejci has just as much sway over the Bruins’ success. Krejci was in perfect “playoff Krejci” form last night, creating plenty of opportunities for himself and his teammates. If he keeps it up, he’ll eventually elevate Lucic and Nathan Horton’s play as well, making that top line dangerous.
- Goaltending has been the Leafs’ biggest issue for the better part of a decade now, and while James Reimer was terrific this year, goaltending was one of their major issues last night. Reimer whiffed on Johnny Boychuk’s slapshot from the point, left his legs open on Krejci’s goal, and mishandled Wade Redden’s shot on the B’s first goal, a shot that, in Reimer’s defense, may have hit a Leaf on the way in. This isn’t to say that the loss was Reimer’s fault; rather that his play can’t have done much to convince Leafs brass and fans that the days of goaltending questions are over. I expect Reimer to bounce back and have a solid series, but his start has to be a bit disheartening.
- The fourth line deserves a lot of credit for turning the tide last night, with a tremendous shift that hemmed the Leafs in their own end for the better part of two minutes. That trio hasn’t been as solid this year as in the recent past, but it was in vintage form last night. That’s a good sign for the B’s, as having a fourth line that can actually play (looking at you again, Colton Orr) is an advantage the B’s have over the Leafs.
- I think Ference will probably end up getting suspended for a game for his hit to the head of Mikhail Grabovski. Argue all you want as to whether or not it was an elbow or a shoulder; it doesn’t matter. The hit was to the head. The principal point of contact was the head. Ference is a repeat offender (the Ryan McDonagh hit a year or so ago, and the “glove malfunction” too). I think he’ll get sat down for Game 2. That means Dougie Hamilton may get his shot. A big game from Dougie would likely send Leafs fans over the edge. Thank you, Kessel, indeed.