Bruins facing unexpected interference from Maple Leafs
There’s always the notion that the Bruins will beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in the playoffs. The Bruins, after all, haven’t lost a playoff series to Toronto since 1959. The Leafs haven’t won any playoff series in 15 long years. And we all remember 2013 when the Bruins won Game 7 vs. Toronto despite trailing by three goals in the third period.
The Bruins will prevail. The Leafs will fall. Bank on it.
But now it feels a little shaky. There’s legitimate fear that maybe this time the Bruins are in danger. Suddenly, it’s possible that the local hockey season could be over by dinner time on Easter Sunday.
The flat Bruins lost Game 5 of their first-round series to the Maple Leafs, 2-1, at the Garden Friday night. Toronto takes a 3-2 lead back home for a Sunday afternoon (3 p.m.) special. The Bruins are going to have to beat these guys two straight times if they want to advance to a second rounder against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
It’s possible that the Garden ice may be a fountain of sorrow by Sunday night. It’s possible that the Celtics own the building for the rest of the spring.
Yikes. This is not what we were counting on. This is not the way it is supposed to go during Boston’s High Renaissance of sports success. The Red Sox and Patriots are reigning World Champions and we’ve toyed with the idea that the Bruins and Celtics could complete the Grand Slam of bling this spring.
It’s still in play, of course, but nobody around here thought the Bruins would lose Friday night.
Compounding the Game 5 defeat, we had an officiating controversy in the third period. This was a scoreless game deep into the third period when Toronto’s boy wonder Auston Matthews buried a one-timer a moment after Tuukka Rask was nudged in the crease by Zach Hyman, who had pushed off Charlie McAvoy. The Bruins contested the score, but the office in Toronto ruled in favor of the Maple Leafs and the goal stood. The Leafs made it 2-0 two minutes later and Boston didn’t get on the board until David Krejci scored with 0:44 left after Rask had been pulled.
In Boston sports lore Friday’s disputed goal was not on a par with Ben Drieth’s call of roughing the passer on Sugar Bear Hamilton (1976 playoffs), or Larry Barnett’s non-call of Ed Armbrister’s interference in the 1975 World Series, but Bruins fans were howling at the moon nontheless.
Rask thought he would have had a chance to stop Matthews’s shot if not for the contact with Hyman.
“Yeah, it kind of distracted me,’’ said the goalie “It wasn’t major contact. It happened so quick, you don’t want to start selling it. I didn’t know who it was at first, I just felt the contact and that’s why I skated over and the told the ref.’’
Toronto coach Mike Babcock said, “You don’t know. You never know. Obviously, it was a good goal but you’ve got to be ready if it doesn’t go your way.’’
“We were told that they were going to make their call,’’ said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. “I did not get an explanation. Inconclusive, therefore the call on the ice stands. Clearly, he inteferes with Tuukka. It goes to Toronto and they have to make a decision. It’s either inteference or it’s not. He pushed off Charlie and then backed into Tuukka. We had time to get ourselves back in the game and regroup. Unfortunately, we were not able to do that.’’
Now it’s backs-against-the-wall and all that stuff.
“We know what we have to do,’’ said Charlie Coyle.
Some Red Bull might help. Boston’s energy was lacking in Game 5.
“We didn’t generate enough offense,’’ said Cassidy. “We just turned down too many shots in my estimation . . . They were better than us in the third and finished plays.’’
Bruins stalwart Patrice Bergeron continues to be quiet.
“There’s not a lot of room out there,’’ said Cassidy. “Toronto has done a better job on us.’’
Beating the Maple Leafs two straight times is certainly achievable, but the Bruins have made things hard on themselves.
“We have to play a good road game and we know how to do that,’’ said Rask. “Play our game and play it as well as we can. Whatever happens, we can live with it. I think our mind-set has been pretty good all year with that and we’re not going to change now.’’