The Bruins played well enough after weathering the start from a desperate Maple Leafs squad in Game 3. But last change, a lack of finish and a leaky defense factored into the 4-2 loss Monday night to give Mike Babcock’s team new life in this first round matchup.
With two days off, the Bruins and Leafs are back at it in Game 4 Thursday night in Toronto.
Thursday will likely mark the first time that the Bruins have their ideal post-trade deadline lineup as defenseman Matt Grzelcyk is probable after missing Game 3 with a lower-body injury.
The Leafs won’t have their full lineup again in Game 4 as Leo Komarov is still nursing an injury while Nazem Kadri serves the last of his three-game suspension for charging Tommy Wingels in Game 1. That didn’t stop them from coming out flying in Game 3 as Auston Matthews, James van Riemsdyk, Frederik Andersen and Patrick Marleau all played key roles in Toronto’s first win of the series.
The Bruins kept the pressure on Andersen in Game 3. They’ll look to do the same, while layering up on the back-end, in Game 4 as Bruce Cassidy and company look to return home with a chance to clinch the series Saturday night in Game 5.
Gametime: 7 p.m.
TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Series: Bruins lead 2-1
Location: Air Canada Centre
Bruins projected lines
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk-David Krejci-Rick Nash
Danton Heinen-Riley Nash-David Backes
Tim Schaller-Sean Kuraly-Noel Acciari
Zdeno Chara-Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug-Kevan Miller
Matt Grzelcyk-Adam McQuaid
Maple Leafs projected lines
Zach Hyman-Auston Matthews-William Nylander
Patrick Marleau-Tomas Plekanec-Mitch Marner
James van Riemsdyk-Tyler Bozak-Connor Brown
Andreas Johnsson-Dominic Moore-Kasperi Kapanen
Morgan Reilly-Ron Hainsey
Jake Gardiner-Nikita Zaitsev
Travis Dermott-Roman Polak
Bruins-Maple Leafs Game 4 storylines
– “If you like me, you’ll like this story. If you hate me, you’ll love it.” Those were the first two paragraphs of Brad Marchand’s piece on The Player’s Tribune. Well, this isn’t necessarily new territory for Marchand, but his intriguing piece is well worth a read. An interesting time for Marchand’s story to be published for sure just hours before Game 4.
– If there’s one constant for the Black and Gold through their first three games, it’s staying out of the box. The Leafs ended the regular season with the second-best power play. They’ve netted two power-play goals, including their lone attempt in Game 3 following an errant delay of game call on Riley Nash, that got them up and running. It’s hard to imagine that both teams will only have one power play in Game 4, and at some point, the Leafs will likely get the benefit of the doubt. That could come tonight in front of their home crowd as they look to even the series.
– Yours truly highlighted the Bruins’ need for secondary scoring in Game 4. One line, in particular, that could help ease that transition is the trio of Jake DeBrusk, David Krejci and Rick Nash. Even without a shot on goal, DeBrusk was engaged in puck pursuit and was one of the better forwards Monday night, while Nash has been active since returning from injury. Krejci, on the other hand, despite two goals and an assist in the series, hasn’t been as consistent as he’s been plagued by turnovers and hasn’t been as sharp in his decision-making with the puck. The veteran has the pieces in place to make a good playoff run — much like he did in 2011 and 2013 — and could use a solid night in Toronto before returning home.