Just the facts
When: Tonight, 7 PM
Where: Air Canada Centre - Toronto, Ontario
How to follow: NESN, NBCSN, CBC, 98.5 The Sports Hub
Rival SBN site: Pension Plan Puppets
Know your enemy
- Mitch Marner: 1G-5A-6PTS; Morgan Rielly: 0G-5A-5PTS; James van Riemsdyk: 3G-1A-4PTS
- Frederik Andersen: 2-3-0, 3.86 GAA, 0.895 save percentage
- It’s “put up or shut up” time for the Bruins, who are dangerously close to putting themselves in must-win territory. The B’s will have up to three kicks at the “eliminate Toronto” can; they blew the first one in embarrassing fashion Saturday night. Here’s to hoping tonight’s goes a bit better.
- Getting off to a good start continues to be important in this series. To wit: aside from breaking ties (i.e. going from 0-0 to 1-0, or from 1-1 to 2-1, there hasn’t been a single lead change in this series. The team that has gone ahead by scoring the first goal has never ended up trailing. WEIRD.
- The Bruins were outplayed in both previous games at the Air Canada Centre. In Game 3, it was close, but the Bruins ended up on the losing end. In Game 4, they got outplayed by a large margin, but were saved by Tuukka Rask. One can’t help but hope that the snoozefest start to Game 5 has reminded the Bruins that they, you know, have to show up for 60 minutes.
- Speaking of Rask, he was candid and forthcoming in his postgame comments after Saturday’s loss. I actually don’t really fault him for any of the goals, given that they were all scored from 4 feet or fewer from the net, but sure, you’d like to see him make the big save. He did it in Game 4, and has historically been pretty good in Toronto. Like to see him slam the door tonight.
- Mike Babcock continues to be lavished with praise for...pretty much anything. He hasn’t really done much of note in this series, but apparently that’s good enough for the dudes on NBC who gush every time he makes a line change.
- Paging Brad Marchand! The Bruins’ second-best forward was nowhere to be found on Saturday night, barely registering on the game radar unless he was turning the puck over. Marchand’s most egregious example of “forcing it” came close to the end of the Bruins’ 5v3 PP; Marchand had the puck in the circle and attempted to force the puck to a covered Patrice Bergeron in the bumper position. The Leafs were all over it, and the PP went by the wayside. Marchand was good in Game 4. We’d like to see more of THAT Marchand.
- Speaking of “put up or shut up” time, it’s about that hour for Rick Nash. I’ve cut him some slack due to his concussion and the fact that he’s been fairly effective on the forecheck, creating chances and getting shots off fronts; however, he wasn’t acquired to be “effective,” he was acquired to score goals. His linemate, Jake DeBrusk, has been great. Nash could use some of that energy injected into his game.
- The fourth line was the Bruins’ best in Game 5. This isn’t a good thing. Obviously you don’t want your grinders being your best unit, but it says a lot about that group. The trio scored goals, drew penalties and generally upped the energy level every time it hit the ice. They know they’re not good enough to get by on talent alone, and bring the required skating game every night. Lines 1 through 3 should take notes.
- Bruins fans moaned about a lack of power plays in Toronto in Games 3 and 4, and were handed an embarrassment of riches with 6 PPs in Game 5. At least two of them were iffy at best, with one being a straight-up bad call. If things swing back in the Leafs’ favor on home ice, it could be a long night.
- Pundits are heaping praise on Frederik Andersen after Game 5, but the Leafs defense deserves more of the credit. While the Bruins did pepper Andersen with shots (that tends to happen when the opposition gives up on creating offense two minutes into the third period), the Leafs blueline limited Grade-A chances. Andersen saw pretty much every puck that came his way, and he owes much of that to the D corps in front of him.
See you at 7!