Game 1 Bruins-Leafs Primer: Riley Nash Remains Out; Donato, Gionta And Holden Healthy Scratches

Patrice Bergeron and the Bruins celebrate their Game 7 OT win over Toronto in 2013. (Getty Images)

BOSTON – The day is finally here. For the 71st time, there will be Stanley Cup playoff hockey in Boston and it all starts tonight when the Boston Bruins host their Original 6 rival, the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 1 of their quarterfinals series.

The big news from the Bruins side is that despite five goals and four assists in 12 games since opting out of his final season with Harvard and signing with the Bruins on March 18, the 2018 Hobey Baker Award finalist will be watching from up top for at least the first game of this series against the Maple Leafs.

Earlier this week, head coach Bruce Cassidy -in a not so short method – laid out his reasoning for sitting the rookie forward, citing the injury to Riley Nash and Donato potentially playing third line center, matching up against some of the Leafs’ top players as problematic.

“Let’s say Rick Nash [plays],” said Cassidy. “He’s a power-play guy in front and he did very well there for us, and very well there for New York and Columbus. So we’re not worried about any dropoff there. He’s going up with [David] Krejci and we like [Jake] DeBrusk back there, so now Ryan was on that line on his off side. So there is a very proven [player in Nash] and that’s where Ryan loses his spot.

“Now you go down the lineup and we like our fourth line. So now it’s a question of is it him, [David] Backes and [Danton] Heinen, or [Noel] Acciari if  [Tommy] Wingels goes in. So that’s the next phase of it.

“Then the last part of it is how many young guys go in the lineup at once where we sustain our level of play because it’s the second season. So we factor all of those in.

“Now [being scratched] for Game 1 doesn’t mean [it’s also] for Game 2. It could change in a hurry. We’ve talked to a number of guys about that may or may not be in. They may be disappointing, but they need to make sure that they’re ready to go. This lineup isn’t set in stone.”

So with the return of Sean Kuraly, Cassidy will move the more experienced and defensive-minded Acciari up to the third line pivot slot and Kuraly into Acciari’s slot on the energy line. The tentative lineups for both teams are below. Brian Gionta and Nick Holden are also healthy scratches.

If Not For Bruins Epic 2013 Game 7 Comeback vs Leafs; Krug Not Sure He’s A Bruin

If this moment in Boston Bruins folklore doesn’t happen the last time the Leafs and Bruins met, in the opening round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Bruins defenseman Torey Krug isn’t sure he’d be lacing up tonight for the Black and Gold on his 27th birthday.

“That’s in the past for sure and probably doesn’t play a role in this series, but trust me, I’ll always remember it because it played a huge role in my career,” Krug pointed out. “If we don’t make that comeback and ‘Bergy’ [Patrice Bergeron], doesn’t score that goal, I may not be a Bruin or even sitting here talking to you.”

At the time, Krug was playing with the Providence Bruins and if not for injuries toDennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference, and Wade Redden, him and then fellow rookies Matt Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton are likely not called up for the second round series against the Rangers. But there he was having an instant impact and helping the Bruins advance to the Eastern Conference Final. Krug scored his first NHL goal, in Game 1 against the Rangers and followed with a goal and an assist in Game 2. He would add two more goals and three assists for six points in 15 playoff games as the Bruins made it to Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final before losing to the Blackhawks.

“Who knows what happens if I don’t get that chance,” Krug said. “Do I make it out of camp the following season? I don’t know. So yeah, we as players can’t let the past factor in, but that Game 7 played a major role in my career.”

Cochise Again?

Being a music buff, I always pay attention to the Bruins playoffs intro music that is played as the team comes onto the ice at TD Garden. Since 2010, ‘Cochise’ by Audioslave has been the go to track. Great choice and the production crew do a splendid job of timing the build-up to the players’ entrance and then having the late Chris Cornell and the lyrics kick in.

Should TD Garden and the team decide to go away from that Audioslave hit for some reason, then they may want to replicate what the Dropkick Murphy’s do for their intro every show, with bagpipes playing as the Bruins rush onto the ice.

Or they could adopt this great jam sent to me from Carlo Di Ilio, a diehard Bruins fan living in Montreal!


Leafs In Six

The Leafs took three out of 4 (3-1-0) from the B’s this season, but does that all go out the door in the playoffs? Does the aforementioned Bruins comeback and

Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star and I discussed all of that and more in the latest edition of the Bruins Beat. We also picked the Maple Leafs to prevail in the series in six games. Give a listen to understand why!


McGran: Leafs Will Beat Bruins in 6


Boston Bruins projected lines for Game 1 vs. Toronto. (Boston Bruins)
Toronto Maple Leafs probable lineups for Game 1 (Boston Bruins)