Eastern Conference Game 6 Preview: Bruins & Leafs, Expect The Unexpected

May 12, 2013 by Sal Ientile of The Hockey Daily.

The Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs don’t exactly have a plethora of recent playoff battles to comb through for interesting tidbits the way the Caps and Rangers do, but there are some things worth mentioning.

Tonight, at 7:30 ET the Bruins will try once again to finish off the Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. While chanting fans weather the rain/wet snow storm that will smother them in Maple Leafs Square this evening the Toronto Maple Leafs will be inside the arena trying to weather a different type of storm.

The Bruins are very used to playing in Game 6’s. In fact, in their last 6 playoff series’ they have played Game 6 a total of 5 times with a record of 2-3. Under .500 they may be in recent memory, however, they have won their previous two Game 6 battles. Those wins came while trailing in a series. The 3 losses have all come while leading the series, as they do right now.

Marchand, Lucic and Seguin all have 1 goal apiece over the Bruins last two Game 6 wins, meanwhile David Krejci has 2. Much has been made of a lack of production from Marchand, Seguin and Bergeron. If one of them comes up big tonight it’s safe to say all will be forgotten.

For the Leafs, there isn’t much material to go on but it is worth noting that forward James van Riemsdyk was part of a Philadelphia Flyers team that came from 3-0 down to defeat the Bruins in 7 games back in 2010. The collapse has often been associated with motivating the Bruins to persevere adversity the following playoffs en route to a Stanley Cup victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Since winning the Cup the Bruins are 6-6 in playoff games.

Bruins in big games this season. They have been uncharacteristically poor in important games this season. Boston lost their last three showdowns with the Habs this season, all of which had division winning implications.

Up against the Eastern Conference favourite Pittsburgh Penguins on April 20, the Bruins let a 2-0 3rd period lead slip for a 3-2 loss in what was a measuring stick game for both clubs.

Finally, on the last game of the season, with 1st place in the division on the line, the Boston Bruins dressed a full roster hoping to beat the Ottawa Senators and clinch first place in the Northeast Division. The win would have guaranteed the Bruins home ice advantage over 6 of a possible 7 Eastern Conference opponents on a playoff run. They lost the game 4-2, and here we are.

All that being said, this is the playoffs and the Bruins have another two opportunities to make everyone, including themselves forget about some of this season’s struggles by winning tonight or tomorrow.

The Leafs are a wild card. Nobody knows what to expect from them other than they have greatly exceeded expectations and are now playing with house money. They have nothing to lose and face no pressure besides the pressure they put on themselves to be winners.

Leafs Nation and Bruins fans alike would hate nothing more than to see their beloved team lose to the other. Since ‘The Phil Kessel Trade’ there has been a minor rivalry between the two clubs that has escalated this season with the Leafs becoming more competitive. Plus there is the whole Original 6 thing going on.

The Leafs were eliminated in Game 6 of the 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs on an OT goal by now retired NHL great Jeremy Roenick. It took them nine years to get back to this very situation. A Game 6 on home ice against an opponent that has their number.

The Bruins have been a good road team in this series, going a perfect 2-0 at the ACC in Games 3 and 4. For them, it will be about bringing their A game early and forcing the Leafs into an uncomfortable situation.

The Leafs will try and win their 1st playoff game on home ice since 2004, when Mats Sundin potted two goals in a 3-1 win over the Flyers.