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10 reasons why it’s the perfect time to face the Bruins

For those who have asked, you can check out the Leaf Legacy series posts that you might have missed by visiting the "Categories" link on the right-hand side of the  page on the front of the Vintage Leaf Memories site under "Leaf Legacy series".

You can also find the links here below:

While most readers, I'm guessing, are more interested in current Leaf talk, I hope some people enjoyed the series.


As seemingly devastating as the Leafs’ recent 11-game “skid” appeared to be, they have the good fortune to be operating in the rather middling Eastern Conference.  And because the Leafs are hardly alone in struggling to consistently find their form at times, they remain in the hunt for the remaining playoff spots. (Last I checked, I think we could fairly that say as many as nine teams are shooting for the last three playoff spots in the Conference...)

Toronto's victory in Montreal kept them either ahead of, alongside, or within much better than shouting distance of a number of clubs, namely, in no particular order:  Winnipeg, Ottawa, Tampa, Washington, Buffalo and Florida.

So, while Leaf fans can’t quite forget the pastings the Leafs received at the hands of the Bruins earlier this season, that was then—and this is now.  And to me, there are no shortage of reasons why the timing of this particular match-up could not be any better for the Leafs—and the blue and white faithful.

This includes the following reasons:
  1. The Bruins are slumping.  This is a team that, especially since the White House fiasco, has not played at a consistently high level.
  2. They are down to one NHL goalie, with former Leaf draftee Rask down and out, perhaps for a long time.  For his part, Tim Thomas, so magnificent last spring as the Bruins battled their way to their first Stanley Cup since 1972, has been merely human of late.
  3. The Bruins are likely filled with self-doubt.  It’s not just the “repeat” syndrome—the wall that all Cup-defending teams tend to unsuccessfully come up against, though that weighs heavily in and of itself, when every team wants to take you out.  But in addition, other teams have gotten better, and the Bruins are fighting some injuries to key role-performers like Peverley, who was so important a year ago, along with Paille and Ference.
  4. It has to be in the heads of the Bruins by now that they can’t beat the Rangers.  Sometimes they’ve lost close games (like Sunday), sometimes they’ve been blown out.  Either way, at the end of the day, one thing is clear:  The Bruins aren’t matching up well with Tortorella’s crew, and right now, they can’t beat New York-  at home or on the road.
  5. As for the Leafs, they are back home Tuesday night, and you know that fans, inspired by a coaching change and a big win in Montreal, will be loud and ready to rock when the Bruins come to town.
  6. The honeymoon effect will be in place for a while with Carlyle behind the bench.  Not that playing for him is a honeymoon for the players, but the fact is, they should respond to playing for a new guy very well for the rest of this season, at the very least. They are all vying for their role (and ice time) under a demanding new coach.
  7. The Leafs will want to un-do some of the collateral damage they felt by losing four times earlier this season to the Bruins.  I want to believe they don’t like the impression that fans have that they can’t stand up to Lucic and the Bruins.  They should come out firing, checking and hitting Tuesday night.
  8. Grabovski broke out of a, what was it—15 games?—scoreless drought in Montreal.  A big game against his old NHL team had to give him a boost.  He doesn’t have his new contract, but he also wasn’t traded at the deadline.  He is now playing to get his team into the playoffs—and to earn a shiny new long-term UFA contract in July (whether here or elsewhere).
  9. A new defensive system will mean less “activating” of the Leaf defensemen, not as many costly "pinches" and as a result, fewer prime-time scoring chances for the opposition.  You can bet the Leafs will be much more vigilant defensively down the stretch than they were at times earlier in the season.  That means the goalies will have a much better chance for success.
  10. At the end of the day, these guys have pride.  I don’t think that even the best athletes necessarily know precisely why confidence is lost, or personal “slumps” happen, or why teams play under their capabilities for stretches at a time.  But it does happen.  Once you fight through that, as the Leafs surely have, you generally come out the other end with a healthy chip on your shoulder—and a lot more confidence...which goes right to your feet.
It’s not a question of guaranteeing a win.  No point in that.  But the Bruins are eminently beatable these days.  And the Leafs should be ready to play their best hockey since earlier this season the rest of the way.

Time to win some games.


  1. I'm not holding much hope we'll make the playoffs this year, but I'll definitely be watching to see how the players are reacting to the new regime. My gut tells me that the Lupul/Bozak/Kessel line is going to be living in "interesting times", as the Chinese wish has it, if they can't find the form they had at the beginning of the season - remember when Wilson put them out to protect a lead at the end of the game because their defensive play had been so good?
    Boston is one of those teams we simply have to beat - if for no other reason than just to feel good about ourselves. It's early days, to be sure, and I wish Carlyle had been given about 10 more games before this one cropped up, but I think we'll get a read on what to expect for the rest of this season, and the next.

  2. Gerund O'...I feel people will be watching every game intensely these next few weeks...should be fascinating to watch things unfold.

    I like your point about the importance of beating the Bruins to, as you put it, feel good about themselves. Well said.

  3. I am hoping for a game of the season on Tuesday.

    I am thinking that Schenn, Komisarek,Brown Steckel, Gustavsson, and even Rosehill might have a resurgence under Carlyle.

    Perhaps a bit more sandpaper will do wonders for Kessel.

    From practice, Connolly looks as if he’ll get fourth-line minutes 5-on-5 and power-play time. Conolly and Lombardi better stat producing if they want off the fourth line. Imagine that over 8 miiion in salary on those 2 on the 4th line.

    I am predicting a 3-2 win for the Leafs and 3 fights. Maybe even a fight from a non-fighter. Conolly almost went with Subban. MacArthur vs Marchand?

  4. tonight's bruins match is a must-win for the leafs for their morale. a couple months back the leafs were on a tear, but then they played the bruins and lost 7-2 or something like that... it was awful. i think the leafs floundered for a few games after that... so now that it's crunch time, i feel like a loss tonight would hit them hard. fingers-crossed for a win!

  5. Hey DP. You prediction sounds good. I do expect some tussles tonight, as well.

    And I agree that certain players may find new life under Carlyle....

  6. Alex's a big game, for sure. They are all "important" but as you note, there are more than the usual reasons why tonight's game matters even more...

  7. Call me crazy but I thought that Komisarek had more bounce in his legs against Montreal. I have a feeling that Komi and a select few (as DP has stated above) are going to flourish in an environment that is clearly defined. And if they can find their confidence quickly against Boston, it will create the foundation to "buy in" to what Carlyle is preaching. Could be an entertaining run to the playoffs!
    As an aside, I'm buying into why Buffalo fans ran Conolly out of town - I cant figure out why he's on the ice sometimes.

  8. One of the most telling signs this year has been how the Leafs have played the Bruins. The first game they played together the Leafs were riding a good start and the Bruins were on their Stanley Cup "hangover". Boston crushed Toronto 6-2. Two weeks later the Leafs had an opportunity to get revenge on home ice and stunk the place out with a 7-0 loss. Did they not learn anything from the first game??? Then three weeks later they invited the Bruins back and got their asses kicked again losing 6-3. That tells me, you either don't have the players to get the job done, or your coach has not adapted the team's play or prepared them properly for Boston. Proof in point, the Leafs lose 4-1 again a few nights later to the Bruins.

    Some may argue that the Leafs lacked the talent to beat Boston. Well during that same time the Leafs were able to beat the likes of Pittsburgh and the Rangers, both very tough teams.

    Tonight's game against Boston we have a new coach and baasically a healthy team, playing an injury-riddled Bruin team who have been struggling and have an inexperience back-up goalie. Anything but a Leaf win tonight will be very disappointing.

  9. TML__fan...well said. Tonight, the cards should be stacked in Toronto's favour, no question. As you mention, the Leafs have earned big wins against other good teams and they will be primed to play well for Carlyle- and themselves - tonight.

  10. David...I don't think you're off...guys can find new life under a new coach. They get another shot, get assessed by a different set of eyes that perhaps don't have the same narrow, already-determined view about a player.

    Of course, some players who were given a long leash by Wilson may, on the other hand, have to re-define themselves a bit. I guess we'll see.

    As for Connolly, we can look at it (and so can he) this way: he has the opportunity to show Carlyle he can be a difference-maker. If he plays well, he'll get more ice time.

  11. Great post as usual Michael. I couldn't agree more the timing of tonight's game is optimal for the Leafs given the situation. Need to get the monkey of their back and a Bruins team with a few key injuries (Peverley, Horton) are ripe for the picking.

  12.'re right, I forgot about Horton. Thanks for posting.

  13. Grabovski re-signed for 5 years.

    The prayers for my favorite Leaf have been answered


  15. Just saw that, too, DP. I'm sure the price tag (and term) will be debated, but it's usually a pleasant problem to have too much talent than not enough. Given that the Leafs will likely still be looking for help up the middle (a "big" centre) this presumably gives them some breathing room while they continue their search...

    It strikes me that Grabbo really didn't want to go anywhere....

  16. KidK...not to comment on the "quality" of your post today...but given the circumstances it was, well....ah...predictable.

  17. Michael- what else was there to say?