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The Leafs will have a tough time against the Big Bad Bruins

Here at Last Word we will be watching and reviewing all of the 2024 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. In each series we try to give a minimum of three very important articles throughout the series. Will the Toronto Maple Leafs raise Lord Stanley’s Holy Grail in 2024? One thing is certain: it will be much easier if their first-round opponents, the Boston Bruins, stayed at bay. The Bruins are an extremely successful, proud franchise. Furthermore, the Bruins have been very difficult to beat since Patrice Bergeron came on the scene. That goes back twenty years. So, who will win in a seven-game series? Delving deeper into the odds for Toronto and Boston, the Athletic offered a different angle. However, it would ultimately provide guidance in building parlays and understanding the outcomes in each game throughout the series. The Athletic’s table lists the odds for each team’s chance of winning after each of the possible endgames. Also the top row is the cumulative probability for each team’s chances of victory. Let’s go get it!

Scenario BUNCH TOR
Total 53 47
4 – Games 7 6
5 – Games 14 11
6 – Games 14 17
7 – Games 18 14

For odds and predictions for Toronto and Boston Let’s start with an overview of the season series

Leaf fans don’t want to hear about the recap of the season series against the Boston Bruins. However, when you break it down or look at individual performances, Leafs fans have something to cheer about. In the four games, Mitch Marner scored a goal and six assists. In addition, goaltender Jeremy Swayman played exceptionally well in the last two games in early March, both of which the Bruins won 4-1. Combined from the two games, he posted a wall-like .968 SV%. Which is to say, the 4-0 season series record doesn’t really reflect the tension of the games. The first game went to a shootout and the second went to overtime. In the overtime game, William Nylander blew a tire, leading to a very late open netter by Brad Marchand. In the last two meetings, the Leafs have defeated the Bruins overall despite falling behind early in both games. If the Leafs want to learn anything from the regular season games, they shouldn’t release teams against Boston, especially early on. You know full well that the Bruins won’t field teams against players like Auston Matthews or Nylander with 69 goals.

Keys to leaf victory

What do the Leafs absolutely need to do to win the Bruins in the first round?

Ultimately, what does Toronto have to do to win and improve their chances against Boston? Well, whoever is in net for the Bruins, which sounds like Linus Ullmark starting game one, get in his grill. This is the playoffs, yes, Matthews will score. But the Leafs grit will have to grind. Tyler Bertuzzi will have to make friends with Linus. Max Domi needs to lay low and put his snipers on one-tees. But, and it’s a big one, discipline and staying off the beaten path. You can’t give David Pastrnak a chance to get any rhythm or it will be a quick round-one series. Another point is that the defense has to play tight. Even if they go to bed early, they cannot escape their play.

So what are the Boston Bruins keys to victory?

For the Bruins to get past the Leafs in the first round, they have to play their game. Boston is a well-structured group that will keep wearing you down until they find holes. Moreover, their offensive attack is very stable. Guys like Charlie Coyle or Danton Heinen step in when you least expect it. They don’t bring a high-end offense, but the Bruins had 18 players score between 10 and 67 points this year. As we say, very stable. And their players are all very responsible defensively under Head Coach Jim Montgomery. Their keys to victory will be physical and wearing down the Leafs offensive players. The Bruins are always ready to play and if they continue the trend from the season series, they will continue to score early. If Boston can score goals anywhere in the lineup, and their goaltending gets them a game or two, they should take the series.

So who are the odds-on favorite between Toronto and Boston?

The results reflect that from the original table in The Athletic. The Boston Bruins are favorites to win the opening round, around -120 according to BET365. In terms of a prediction, however, the Leafs are built to win. As long as their defense and goaltending play like they can, they can beat the Bruins. Look for the slim lead in Game Six for the Leafs to prevail and win the series. From an offensive perspective, acquiring Matthews or Pastrnak is a safe choice. Also, for the Leafs, look for Bertuzzi to continue his good play in the playoffs. The goaltending, on both sides, will have a huge impact in this series. Look for the Bruins backstops to steal at least a game or two.

Prediction: Leafs take the series 4-2.

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Main photo: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

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