BOSTON, MA – The Boston Bruins took a 1-0 series over the Maple Leafs with a 5-1 win and they did so by flipping the script the Leafs wanted to write with the discipline and restraint needed to win in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Heading into the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins, one of the hot topics was how the Bruins would stop the Leafs’ power play which finished second in the NHL regular season. The Leafs didn’t hide the fact that they were going to do their best to get under the collective skin of the Bruins and more specifically Bruins superstar Brad Marchand, who has been known to take the bait and walk the wrong side of the line.
Unfortunately for the Leafs, Marchand and the Bruins weren’t biting as they held Toronto to just three power plays, killing all of them, and then went 3-for-6 on their power play, getting goals from Marchand, David Backes and David Krejci. The Bruins also killed all three Toronto power plays.
Well, ultimately it was the difference,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said of the team’s discipline and execution on the power play. “Clearly, in the first half of the game, you don’t know how it’s going to play out at the end. They took a major, so that obviously forces you on the kill and expend a lot of energy defending as opposed to scoring. So, when you’re behind, that’s a problem.
Our power play, we had a good entry and Marchy made a good play. We had a lot of speed on the entry and that’s what you need against this kill. Then ‘Krech’ [Krejci] made a good low play and we finished around the net. That can be a little bit of a
difference; we finished one, they didn’t. So, it goes the other way, you don’t know how the end bis going to be, but from there I thought we were a good team, played the right way, and we were able to bring it home.”
Marchand who finished with an assist as well for two points in Game 1, isn’t known for playing the right way thanks to numerous suspensions and not always walking the right side of the line an agitator has to walk. The pesky winger isn’t just an agitator anymore though after scoring 34 goals this season and cracking that 30-goal plateau for the third straight season. Marchand was suspended and fined in the second half of the season and he wasn’t about to fall into any traps the Leafs were trying to create for him. That didn’t go unnoticed by Cassidy and his teammates.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) April 13, 2018
“I thought it was excellent,” Cassidy said of his star winger’s discipline in Game 1. “He’s going to be a guy that teams are going to circle, because he’s an elite player. In the past, you’ve been able to get him off his game at times. That’s, a lot of times -the good players that play with passion, you see with a lot of them – how quickly can you get it back, and where do you keep your discipline not to hurt your team. I thought he did a real good
job with that tonight. I’m sure he’ll get tested again Saturday, but that’s what Marchy’s up against. You want to be a good player, you better be prepared for extra attention.
He’s not the only one of our guys, just like they’ve got some guys over there that we want to make it hard for them to earn their ice, and that’s hockey in general, but it’s even more magnified this time of the year.”
Backes concurred and praised Marchand for heeding some pre-game advice he received from Backes.
“I think they probably watched the last five games of our season and saw if Marchy is thinking about stuff other than hockey he’s not as good of a hockey player but if he’s thinking about
making hockey plays he’s one of the top players in the world, in the discussion for sure,” Backes said. “I kind of told him if I was playing against him that’s what I would do. Try to get him thinking about stuff other than hockey because he’s so tough to defend and he’s all over the puck and tough to knock off it. When he’s setting up plays, doing his thing, when that line is potent and winning their matchup especially by a couple we’re a tough team to beat.”
Marchand didn’t just not retaliate to efforts by the Leafs to rattle him, he also got under their skin by killing them with kindness and as has become the tradition with Toronto forward Leo Komarov, kisses.
Following the game Marchand had some fun explaining his second smooch on Komarov in the last year.
“I thought he wanted to cuddle, I was just trying to get close to him,” Marchand said with a smirk after the game.
All joking aside, Marchand knows he succeeded in walking that fine line in Game 1 and realizes he must maintain that discipline while still being the agitator he is; that in turn allows him to be the superstar he’s become.
“If that’s something they’re trying to do, I’m not going to get caught up in that,” Marchand said of turning a blind eye. “I’m just going to play my game and stay in the team system. It’s a little easier when we’re winning, but we just need to play it out no matter how it plays out.”
The Leafs’ agitator and at this point a budding star, Nazem Kadri did exactly what he and his teammates were hoping Marchand would do, and that’s running around hitting anything with reckless abandon and taking runs at the opponent after the whistle. Kadri did that on more than one occasion and the last time got him ejected after he ran a kneeling and defenseless Tommy Wingels in the third period. That led to a five-minute power play – on which Krejci scored – and an ejection from the game at 8:18 of the third.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) April 13, 2018
The NHL Department of Player Safety announced late Thursday night that Kadri would have a hearing on Friday to determine any supplemental discipline.
So while Kadri may sit for a few games after walking the wrong side of the line, Marchand, with a goal and an assist already in the series, will look to parlay his efforts and discipline and help his team earn a 2-0 series lead Saturday in Game 2.