Few events in sports can match a game seven of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and that is the treat for all on Wednesday night as the Boston Bruins will host the Toronto Maple Leafs. The winner will move on to the Eastern Conference semi finals while the loser will hit the golf links. Boston held a commanding three games to one lead in this best of seven series but is in peril of blowing the entire thing. Boston was a dominant team in the Eastern Conference all season but lost their final home game to a Florida Panthers team that was out of the playoffs. Had they won that game they would have avoided the up and coming Leafs. One has to wonder if a similar bad ending is in store here.
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Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Boston Bruins Game 7
Date and Time: Wednesday, April 25, 2018, 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: TD Garden, Boston Massachusetts
NHL Odds at Betcris: Check Back Later
Maple Leafs vs. Bruins TV Coverage: NBCSN
Boston had the opportunity to clinch this series at home last Saturday night but was outplayed in a 4-3 loss. On an emotional Monday night in Toronto just hours after a terror attack the Leafs and their fans were in a fever pitch and tied the series with a 3-1 win at Air Canada Centre.
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Mike Babcock of the Maple Leafs is universally acclaimed as the best coach in the NHL. What was interesting is that even his biggest fans were critical of him through the first five games. Babcock, it was said, was getting schooled on line matchups and overall jam of play. But the master has rallied yet again, rallying his team to a pair of do or die wins and setting up the anything goes game seven. Toronto has played with greater speed and with better energy. They have been less tentative. And Babcock has gotten the majority of line matchups that he has wanted in the past two tilts.
Bruce Cassidy is in his first full season with the Boston Bruins after taking over halfway through last year. The Bruins had grown stale under previous coach Claude Julien and Cassidy has proven to be the fresh voice and set of eyes that was desperately needed. Cassidy was credited with getting the better of Babcock in the first five games of the series. But now he faces the full throttle pressure of getting his team back on track and avoiding the “choke” of blowing a 3-1 series lead.
Players to Watch
Center Mitch Marner has had a strong series for Toronto with two goals, six assists, and a plus four. Left wing James van Riemsdyk has three goals and one assist. Yet the man near the bottom of the scoresheet will be the player that is needed most for the big night. Auston Matthews, the 2016 top NHL Draft pick, has been held to one goal, one assist and a minus five. If he can break free and contribute the Leafs chances will be far greater.
After a hot start with four goals in the first two games Bruins left wing David Pastrnak has cooled off with just two assists since. Center Patrice Bergeron is yet to light the lamp after a 30-goal regular season. Boston’s big guns are desperately needed.
Boston’s Tuukka Rask has slipped to a .909 save percentage in this series after a hot start. Monday was not his fault however with 27 saves on 29 shots.
Toronto’s Frederik Andersen has played much better after getting shelled in the first two games. He also has a save percentage of .909 in this series. Andresen has stopped 74 of 78 shots in the last two games.
Maple Leafs vs. Bruins Free Picks
In 2013 Toronto rallied from 3-1 down to force a game seven at Boston which they lost in an epic comeback. Expect history to repeat itself and Boston to escape.
Maple Leafs vs. Bruins Pick: Bet the Boston Bruins money line
Maple Leafs vs. Bruins Score Prediction: Bruins 4, Maple Leafs 3