The rivalry between the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs is usually one of the most fun things to watch on the Twitterverse, and the games tend to be played like the Game Seven everyone would love to do over.
So when you can get a chance to squash all that excitement and good will with a stupid question about a player on the other team holding out, I mean, how can you not take it?
David Pastrnak on close friend William Nylander: "It's definitely hard for him to not play now."
Adds that he doesn't regret signing his $6.67M, six-year deal before missing time last season: "I *could be playing in Czech, right? For a couple hundred bucks per month."
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) November 26, 2018
In the end, though, Pastrnak may have taken less money — but he took home a regulation loss on Monday, too. So who’s the real winner here?
FINAL SCORE: Toronto 4, Boston 2
This milestone is much more than just a number. It’s a marker of Patrick Marleau’s dedication, his drive and his devotion to his teammates and to this game.
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) November 27, 2018
The Leafs and the Bruins came into the game in vastly different places. Toronto was 16-8-0, with one additional game played on Boston but needing to win a four-point game to maintain their spot in the Atlantic Division standings. Boston, who have been heavily ravaged by injuries already this season, were just 13-6-4, struggling to find consistency both in net and from their piecemeal lineup after losing everyone from Zdeno Chara to Patrice Bergeron through the first two months of the season.
Toronto would open up scoring in the first period, despite the majority of the first frame remaining fairly even-paced between the two clubs. It would take nearly 18 minutes of play for a sick centering feed from Marner to hit Travis Dermott, who put the puck behind Jaroslav Halak without much in the way of defensive pressure to stop him:
🚨TRAVIS DERMOTT GOAL ALERT🚨 pic.twitter.com/xwhh4XcDQu
— The Leafs Nation (@TLNdc) November 27, 2018
The second period, though, was far more exciting.
Boston would outshoot Toronto 18-9 over the 20 minute span, absolutely shelling Frederik Andersen and keeping themselves in the game in the process. Four total goals would come out of the period, including two from David Pastrnak — one at even strength, one not — and Igor Ozhiganov’s first career NHL tally.
Mitch Marner is kind of ridiculous pic.twitter.com/YQuasB8Nq8
— Richard Lee-Sam (@RLeesam) November 27, 2018
The Ozhiganov goal was a reminder of just how good Marner is at reading the ice; his ability to wait out the Boston defense until he had everyone’s attention is uncanny. He’s able to draw the focus to himself behind the net, then passes a lightning-quick puck to the incoming Ozhiganov to capitalize and re-gain the lead after the first of Boston’s two goals.
All four goals scored were trade-offs, as Pastrnak’s two were sandwiched by Ozhiganov’s goal and the second Toronto goal came just 1:22 from the end of the period from the depth forwards.
With the help of Josh Leivo, Tyler Ennis, and Patrick Marleau, though, the Leafs were able to head to the dressing room after 40 with yet another one-goal lead.
The final period was another close battle, with Toronto narrowly pulling ahead in shots 13-12 and both teams once again avoiding the box.
Noted children’s author Zach Hyman was able to nab an empty-netter in the final 1:35 of the game, though, and that was all she wrote. Pastrnak had done his best, but the lack of supplemental scoring on Boston’s roster and the depth Toronto managed to showcase ultimately helped Toronto pull another two points ahead of their divisional rivals.
- The Bruins have been surviving through their injuries, due in large part to their wealth of top line talent and the young players coming up through their system. Toronto managed to hold them off with a similarly depleted forward corps (although their defence remained a little healthier than Boston’s Chara-less, McAvoy-less, and Carlo-less blue line), but the seven shots on goal that Jake DeBrusk managed to record were a nice reminder that these two teams should be a ton of fun to watch in each of their matchups this year.
- Andersen once again stood on his head, stopping 38 of 40 shots faced. For a game that remained fairly penalty-free, though, Toronto took an unnecessary too many men penalty in the second — and with the number of shots Boston managed to get in the period, the team is lucky they had their starter to hold them in the game.
- The Leafs are winning without Matthews and Nylander, which is still awesome news. As the Penguins showed with their consecutive cups two years ago, though, it’s always nicer to have both a Crosby and a Malkin down the middle – and when you have a top scoring talent on the wing that you could have in your lineup, being ‘good’ shouldn’t be enough. The team will look even better at full strength, and that should be the ultimate takeaway.