Maple Leafs 2022-23 Divisional Preview: Boston Bruins

Familiar foes. Arch rivals. Call them what you want, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins, simply put, do not like each other. While the Maple Leafs have made the playoffs the last six seasons, the Bruins have knocked them out on two occasions and — as many Maple Leafs fans want to forget — they also came out on the winning side against a Maple Leafs team that crumbled in Game 7 of their 2012-13 playoff series.

Boston Bruins Toronto Maple Leafs 2022/23 Divisional Preview
Boston Bruins Toronto Maple Leafs (The Hockey Writers)

While the rivalry has lost some of its key players in Leo Komarov, Zdeno Chara and Tuukka Rask in recent years, the hate between both fanbases isn’t something that will just fizzle out and so the storied rivalry continues on the ice as well. Guys like Brad Marchand and Michael Bunting have picked up the agitator roles on their respective sides and for now, this divisional battle remains a heated one.

Maple Leafs, Bruins Historically Speaking

Over their existence, these teams have met 680 times during the regular season with the Bruins holding the edge. The Maple Leafs are 281-291-98-10 all-time against the Bruins, but have outscored them 2,026 to 2,012 over that span. That’s an average of 2.98 goals for while giving up 2.96 goals per game. So, as you guessed, a pretty evenly matched series of games between the two clubs.

Related: Ranking the Atlantic Division’s Goaltending Duos

The Maple Leafs have dominated at home over the years, while the Bruins have protected their barn when the Maple Leafs would visit.

As for the postseason, it may not seem it in recent years, but once again they are pretty tightly matched. Each team has won eight series, while the Bruins hold a slight edge in the win department with the Maple Leafs sitting at 40-42-0-1. As such, the Maple Leafs have been outscored historically in the postseason against the Bruins with their last meeting ending in a seventh and deciding game in round one of the 2019 NHL playoffs.

Looking Back on the Maple Leafs and Bruins in 2021-22

Last season was a little more of a cake walk for the Maple Leafs against the Bruins than it normally is. The Maple Leafs won all three contests against their divisional foes outscoring them 16-8 in those three games.

That included a pair of 5-2 victories and a 6-4 games in March in Boston. For the Maple Leafs, Erik Kallgren picked up two wins, while Jack Campbell won the first meeting of the season in November.

Jack Campbell Toronto Maple Leafs
Jack Campbell, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Maple Leafs’ power play clicked at a 40 percent rate, while their penalty kill was subpar at just over 62 percent against the Bruins last season, still they were able to get it done. Even so, the Maple Leafs were outshot on average over those three games 33-31, but their goaltending came up big with a .920 save percentage overall against the Bruins.

While he only played two of the three games, Auston Matthews had three goals and four points versus the Bruins in 2021-22, while Mitch Marner tallied six points of his own in just two games. The Maple Leafs’ top line came to play when it had to do with the Bruins last season, but those demons won’t be exorcised until it happens in the postseason as well.

While they didn’t meet this time around, both teams did make the playoffs in 2021-22. The Maple Leafs finished second in the Atlantic Division and took on the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning losing in seven games, while the Bruins finished fourth in the division and took the Hurricanes to seven games before losing in the deciding game.

Both teams will be looking to have a better outcome this time around, but will be doing so with a few new faces in the lineup.

Maple Leafs’ New Duo and Krejci Returns

While the Bruins will officially be with out Rask, the Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark should provide some stability for the Bruins in 2022-23 after Swayman had a breakout season last year. As for what the Bruins did do in the offseason, they brought back some core players.

The Bruins re-signed Patrice Bergeron and signed David Krejci to one-year deals. While there was only one place Bergeron was going to play, the B’s faithful will be happy to see Krejci back from overseas. The Bruins also signed a one-year deal with Pavel Zacha. But their biggest change might be in the firing of Bruce Cassidy and replacing him with Jim Montgomery behind the bench.

David Krejci Boston Bruins
David Krejci, Boston Bruins (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

As for the Maple Leafs, they revamped their goaltending — whether for better or worse, that’s up for debate — but Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov are now at the helm for the Maple Leafs. They also let Ilya Mikheyev walk, but replaced him with Calle Jarnkrok, filling in the bottom six with Nicolas Aubé-Kubel and Zach Aston-Reese.

While the Maple Leafs didn’t change much, Aubé-Kubel brings a little Stanley Cup experience to the depth of the Maple Leafs and it will be a different look for them in net. Murray has a winning record in his career against the Bruins at 5-4-0 in 10 games with a .924 save percentage and 2.87 goals against average. Samson hasn’t faired as well, but he only has three games played against the Bruins in his short career.

Maple Leafs Could Go Either Way in 2022-23

Quite frankly this season series could be an absolute toss-up as are most games between these two Atlantic Division foes. On paper, neither team significantly improved. Krejci could make a difference for the Bruins, but the Maple Leafs back end is more solidified than it has been in a while aside from some question marks in Jake Muzzin and Justin Holl.

Related: Maple Leafs’ Bunting Set to Repeat Breakout Season

Up front, the Maple Leafs are a very similar team to what they were last season. There is still some questions surrounding who will play at the left wing position on the second line, but barring any serious change to the lineup, the Maple Leafs should continue to be a force offensively.

Auston Matthews Toronto Maple Leafs
Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

As for the Bruins, the re-addition of Krejci does sure up some defensive zone struggles. He’s another player that can play a 200-foot game and that should benefit the Bruins from a defensive standpoint. His offensive production may have taken a step back, but he’s still a player that can add a bit on that end of the puck as well that he’s a benefit to have in the lineup.

Where the Bruins may struggle is on their blueline. Charlie McAvoy carried the weight last season and now with Matt Grzelcyk out for a bit, that weakens their defence even more. But I’ve learned over the years not to count the Bruins out of anything — still, I would say that the Maple Leafs are going to come out on top of this season series in the Atlantic Division.

It’s not a guarantee, but the Maple Leafs should finish ahead of the Bruins in the Atlantic, but that doesn’t safe them from a first-round matchup with their familiar foes. As for the regular season, the two sides play four games between November and April which should give us a good taste of how they stack up against each before any playoff implications are decided.

Meetings This Season

November 5, 2022 – Boston at Toronto – 7 p.m.

January 14, 2023 – Toronto at Boston – 7 p.m.

February 1, 2023 – Boston at Toronto – 7:30 p.m.

April 6, 2023 – Toronto at Boston – 7 p.m.