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Are the Maple Leafs due to upset the favoured Bruins?

I posted the following on Facebook, and wanted to share those thoughts here at Vintage Leaf Memories as well.

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Well, it's been a while since the Maple Leafs have beaten the Bruins in a playoff series. Current Leaf fans well know that the Leafs have faced the Bruins twice in the playoffs in the past few years.

Those of us a bit (a lot, actually) older also well recall that we faced and lost to the "Big Bad Bruins" of Orr, Espo, Cheevers, Bucyk, Hodge, Cashman, Sanderson and other great Bruins in the spring of 1969, 1972 and 1974.

If memory serves, the last time the Leafs actually beat Boston in a best-of-seven series was back at the end of the 1958-'59 season. That was the year of their inspired late season playoff push, when they came from well behind in the standings over the last two weeks of the regular season to catch and surpass the New York Rangers to earn fourth place in the old six-team league.

They drew the Bruins in the first round. Boston had some really fine players like Harry Lumley, Ferny Flaman, a younger Johnny Bucyk and another future Hall-of-Famer, Leo Boivin.

I was very young at the time but that series and their upset of the Bruins in 7 games (Game 7 was at the old Boston Garden) is one of the more memorable playoff series in Leaf history. Johnny Bower had established himself as the team's number one netminder by playoff time under then new Head Coach and General Manager Punch Imlach. Guys like Duff, Armstrong, Regan, Horton, Stanley, Mahovlich (seen with George Armstrong, right) and especially Bobby Pulford were instrumental in the Leafs advancing to meet the vaunted Habs in the finals.

The Leafs managed to win Game 3 of the finals at home at the Gardens when Duff scored in overtime against Jacques Plante, but Montreal was just too much for the Leafs in that series, as they still were a year later when they beat Toronto in four straight in the finals on their way to their fifth consecutive Stanley Cup championship.

But for the Leafs, it was all part of the building process toward becoming champions themselves. By 1962, they had won their first Cup in over a decade, and went on to win three more championships in that decade.

As for the current Leafs, we'll soon see how they fare against a still fairly formidable Bruins squad this time around.

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The Leafs have had, by most any measure, another strong regular season. But the feeling seems to be that any time now, Leaf fans will be expecting that "next step"- just like the promising Leaf team of the late 1950s.

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