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ColumnA common narrative surrounding Rick Nash has always been his supposed inability to score in the postseason. It's a somewhat fair point given the fact that he's averaging 0.41 goals per game in his career in the regular season compared to 0.19 goals per game in the postseason. What that fails to recognize, however, is the fact that Nash is so much more than just a goal-scorer. While finding the back of the net is a huge part of his game, the 33-year-old is the prototypical power forward who contributes to his team by throwing his weight around, using his size and reach to protect the puck and by playing responsibly in all three zones. When looking at his first postseason game in Boston, it's easy to look at his zero points in a 5-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs and assume that he was a non-factor in many ways. Anyone who watched the game, however, can attest to the fact that Nash had an excellent game despite missing the previous nearly a month of action due to a...
Toronto Maple LeafsThe third period of Game 1 of the first-round series between the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs was marred by an ugly incident between the Leafs’ Nazem Kadri and the Bruins’ Tommy Wingels. At 08:18 of the third, Kadri was given a five-minute major penalty and game misconduct for laying an illegal hit on Wingels, just after Wingels had caught Toronto’s Mitch Marner in the head with an elbow – also a prohibited play. It was an ugly scene all around, and should see both players suspended by the National Hockey League. Background Between Kadri and Wingels Kadri makes himself noticed nearly every time he steps on the ice, generally for good reasons. However, he comes close to – sometimes crossing – the line often enough that officials pay a little more attention to him than most other players. Once amongst the NHL leaders in penalty differential, Kadri is now one of the league’s players least likely to get a break from the officials, either when on the...
Boston BruinsBecause of their loss to the Florida Panthers on Sunday, the Boston Bruins failed to win the Atlantic Division. They now have a harder start to the playoffs. Their opponent, the Toronto Maple Leafs, have had immense success against them this season and won three out of four meetings. This is mainly due to the fact that the Leafs have one of the strongest offenses in the NHL. The Bs simply could not handle them. Yet, playoff hockey offers a fresh start and the Bruins will look to turn the tables. With a roster full of offensive talent and players like Rick Nash set to return, there is a lot to be optimistic about. There is also a lot of pressure on the Maple Leafs in this match-up. They will be looking to make up for their abysmal collapse against the Bs back in the 2013 playoffs. This, in a sense, has rekindled their intense Original Six rivalry. Because these two teams are so equally matched, Game 1 is extremely important. The Bruins, fortunately, have home ice advantage...
Toronto Maple LeafsWhen the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs begin, nothing that happened in the regular season will matter. It's for that reason that the 50-win, 112 point-earning Boston Bruins will have to work hard and not rest on their laurels against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the opening round of the postseason. It's for that very same reason that the Maple Leafs shouldn't look at their 3-1 regular season record against the Bruins in 2017-18 and immediately think they have the upper-hand. When it comes down to it, the division-rival Bruins and Maple Leafs will face off with a blank slate. Both teams have made adjustments in recent seasons that have pushed young players to the forefront of the discussion. Players like Charlie McAvoy, David Pastrnak, Jake DeBrusk, Danton Heinen, Matt Grzlecyk, Ryan Donato, Austin Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner. None of those young players were even drafted the last time the Bruins and Maple Leafs squared off in the playoffs in 2013. Now, however,...