At long last, playoff hockey is set to return at TD Garden.
With Game 1 between the Bruins and Maple Leafs set to get underway at 7 p.m., we put together a one-stop post for all of our preview content, while also tossing in my prediction for the series and a couple of reasons why both the Bruins and Leafs could punch their ticket to the next round.
Whichever side of the ice you want to look at it, Boston’s top line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak has to be licking its chops at another rematch with the Leafs.
During last year’s seven-game victory against Toronto, that line combined for 31 total points — with Pastrnak now up to 12 goals and an absurd 25 total points over his last 13 games against the Leafs.
Down the other end of the ice, a trio anchored by a four-time Selke Trophy winner in Bergeron shut down Auston Matthews’ line — with the Toronto pivot limited to just one goal and one assist during the series.
This year, the Bergeron line has primarily handled Toronto’s second line of John Tavares, Mitch Marner and Zach Hyman — with the results once again swinging in Boston’s favor. In 22:33 of 5v5 TOI in which Bergeron and Tavares were out on the ice together, Boston held the edge in shot attempts (27-20), shots on goal (13-7) and goals (1-0).
If the Bergeron line can continue to negate one of Toronto’s top-six lines while wreaking havoc around the Leafs’ net, Toronto doesn’t stand a chance. Fair to say, a Leafs top D pairing of Morgan Rielly and Ron Hainsey doesn’t inspire much confidence.