With Game 1 right around the corner for the first-round series between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins, the debate is heating up in predicting who will take home the series win. While the Leafs will certainly go into the best-of-seven as underdogs, finishing seven points back of the Bruins during the regular season, they had a good year when it came to playing their rivals from Boston.
For some, the nightmares of five years ago still linger in the hearts of Leafs Nation. While others look at this as a new beginning, a fresh start, with a team that is up to the task of taking down the Bruins.
Either way, the Leafs have dominated the season series. With that in mind, here’s how the numbers have played out between these two teams.
Rask, Andersen and the 2.69 GAA
While the two clubs played four games against each other during the regular season, both Tuukka Rask and Frederik Andersen played in three of them.
Andersen posted a 2-1 record in his three games while only giving up eight goals. He finished the year with a 2.69 goals against average (GAA) and .908 save percentage (SV%) against the Bruins this season.
Similarly, Rask finished the season with a 2.69 GAA against the Leafs this season. That went along with a 1-2 record and an almost identical .905 SV%.
That said, these numbers aren’t even close to what the two netminders have posted against their respective opponents over their careers. In fact, both have put up some incredible stats against each other’s teams over the years.
Goalies’ Career Success
Rask has had more opportunity against the Leafs over his career than Andersen has had against the Bruins and, even with it, Rask continues to put up impressive numbers against the team that traded him over a decade ago.
He’s played 28 games against the blue and white and has a 16-7-2 record to show for it. Better than that, however, is his 2.14 GAA and .925 SV% which are much better than his season numbers against Toronto.
Manning the other crease, Andersen has a 10-1-0 record in 11 games against the Bruins over his career. Over that time, he’s been able to post a 2.09 GAA and .935 SV% – demolishing his season stats against the black and gold.
But enough with the goaltenders in this series. After all, a team can’t win without putting up some goals in the playoffs. That said, here’s a look at who led the way for each club during the regular season.
Mitchy and the Bruins
With Mitch Marner playing as well as he is to end the season, the Leafs could be taking on just the right team with the just the right player leading them into the postseason.
He played in all 82 games for the Leafs in just his second season in the NHL and set a new career high in goals (22), assists (47) and points (69). And when it came to playing the Bruins, he had the most success of any Leafs player this season.
Marner tallied three goals and nine points in his four games against the Bruins this season. The next closest Leafs were James van Riemsdyk (3g-2a) and Nazem Kadri (2g-3a) who both recorded five points in their four games against Boston.
On the other side of the puck, Patrice Bergeron (2g-2a), Torey Krug (1g-3a) and David Pastrnak (2g-2a) all tied with four points in four games against their rivals from Toronto. That said, we’ve all seen what Bergeron and Brad Marchand can do in the playoffs – especially against the Leafs.
So what do the all-time numbers say?
Leafs, Bruins All-Time
When it comes to their all-time head-to-head numbers, there’s a large sample size for us to look at. With both teams having been around essentially from the beginning, they’ve taken each other on 670 times with the Bruins carrying the edge.
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The Leafs are 276-286-98-10 all-time against the Bruins with a point percentage of .493 in their 670 matchups. While the Bruins edge the Leafs out in wins, the Leafs have outscored Boston over that span – 1992 to 1977.
That’s a small positive that Leafs fans can take away from their all-time matchup with the Bruins as both teams ready themselves for what should be a feisty series.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.