The 2017/18 National Hockey League playoffs are here. Canadian fans, it is time to choose between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Winnipeg Jets. Here, we’re focusing on the Maple Leafs – and Mike Babcock’s side need all the support they can get after the opening match of the series.
Toronto fans were quietly confident of a close contest in the first road contest but Auston Matthews and co fell short, eventually losing 5-1 to a fired up Bruins side. A second defeat in a row will really pile the pressure on Toronto ahead of their home double header whilst a road victory will give the Maple Leafs an advantage.
Predicting the outcome of playoff fixtures is notoriously difficult but we are going to try and do just that. Can the Toronto Maple Leafs bounce back and emerge victorious or will the Boston Bruins prove too strong on home ice? Only time will tell. Check out our thoughts on the action below…
Brilliant Bruins Too Hot To Handle?
Boston were simply sublime last time out, putting five goals past a nervy Toronto defensive unit. The Bruins will be looking to build on that triumph with another dominant showing in this contest – and they are in excellent form on home ice. With four wins in their last five games at TD Garden, the Boston faithful will be full of confidence ahead of what could be a defining encounter in the race to reach the next round.
KEY MAN: Brad Marchand. Marchand led the Bruins with 85 points from just 68 matches in the regular season and he started the playoffs strongly earlier this week. The Bruins star was at the centre of Boston’s attacking play, notching a goal and an assist in that 5-1 victory over Toronto.
At the time of writing, the Bruins are 9/1 with bet365 to go on and win the Stanley Cup this season and Marchand’s form will be key to their chances. When he plays well, Boston tend to play well and supporters will be expecting another huge performance from their star man this weekend.
Maple Leafs Must Go From Miserable To Magical
Toronto need to be at their brilliant best to keep tabs on this Boston outfit. The Bruins are a well-organised unit but the Maple Leafs can go toe-to-toe with the six-time Stanley Cup winners. Backing against the Canadian side here would be foolish; an immediate response looks likely at TD Garden.
Should the Maple Leafs come out on top, they immediately become favourites to win the series. Boston are decent on the road but winning at Air Canada Centre is no easy feat. At 18/1 with 888sport, the Maple Leafs represent excellent value in the Stanley Cup race and plenty of punters will be backing Toronto ahead of this clash with Boston.
KEY MAN: Zach Hyman. Hyman didn’t have the greatest regular season on the roster but he did manage to score Toronto’s consolation goal in the first fixture. With that in mind, the Maple Leafs star could push on and enjoy an increased role in this contest – Hyman now has four points in his previous six appearances for the Canadian organisation.
A much tighter contest awaits here. Toronto will be desperate to avoid defeat but Boston are very difficult to beat on home ice. The Bruins are an exceptional hockey team and the visitors may find this one a stretch too far. Hyman and Matthews could give Boston plenty to think about but siding with the in-form team may be wise. The Maple Leafs could be staring elimination right in the face if Boston go for the throat.
BRUINS 3-2 MAPLE LEAFS