Bruins continue domination of Maple Leafs

Bruins continue domination of Maple Leafs
March 8, 2013, 9:30 am
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The Toronto Maple Leafs were supposed to be nastier, more ready to engage physically and packed with much more snarl than their predecessors as they invaded Boston on Thursday night.

But it was much more of the same: which meant great things for the Bruins and pretty bad things for the Leafs in a Northeast Division showdown. The B’s were once again the windshield and the Maple Leafs were the squashed bug as Boston took a 4-2 victory for their eighth consecutive win over Toronto dating back to the beginning of last season.

It’s the longest consecutive string of wins for the Bruins over the Leafs in their long Original Six rivalry, and it simply means the world order remains the same within their division.

The Maple Leafs club is making progress and kept things close. They might even be the “playoff team” that Claude Julien predicted them to be on Thursday morning prior to the game. But they’ve got a long way to go before they can give an experienced, motivated group of Bruins enough of a hassle to put a little fear in their hearts.

That tends to be the case when you outscore an opponent by a 41-12 margin while taking a perfect eight wins out of eight chances.

“I think it’s frustrating every night you lose, but they have a different group over there, different coaching staff and management,” said Brad Marchand, who picked up a pair of assists on Boston’s first two goals. “I don’t think the streak really matters a whole lot to really anyone in that room. Every night is different.

“I think anything can happen on any given night. [Toronto] came in, they played a hard game, they battled very well, but it’s always nice for us to win here [at home]. When we go into a game we don’t look at the past eight, or whatever it is. We don’t look at those and say, ‘We have beaten them before, so we’re going to beat them tonight.’ It’s about how prepared you are and just how that game goes.”

The same characteristics were there as have been in many of the other eight games, however. Dion Phaneuf was a disaster in the defensive zone once again, and was a minus-3 while botching each of Boston’s first two goals with his defensive coverage. The Toronto Captain was a minus-10 in six games against the Bruins last season, and seems miscast as a shutdown defenseman against a talented group of Boston forwards.

Not much is going to change if forwards like Bergeron, Seguin, Marchand, Krejci, Lucic and Horton are allowed to simply run over, around and through the Toronto defense, and the Bergeron/Seguin/Marchand line snapped in three of the team’s four goals.

At the other end of the spectrum Phil Kessel once again disappeared and managed only two shots without a single point and a minus-2 rating.

“They are at the top of the East for a reason and we are right there with them,” said Phaneuf. “It’s two good teams that both played hard. But they definitely did take advantage of some mistakes.

“That’s what good teams do. We had some opportunities and their goalie made some saves, but I thought that overall the effort was there. We take the good from it and move forward.”

Well, not exactly right there with them. With the loss the Maple Leafs drop three points behind the Bruins with Boston holding four games in hand against one of their top divisional rivals at the halfway point of the season. It also doesn’t appear like the Leafs are going to gain much ground in the head-to-head battles against the Bruins this season if things don’t drastically change.

So perhaps it’s time for Toronto to close their eyes, cross their fingers and simply hope that the “big brother” Bruins aren’t waiting for them around the way once the playoff season begins in earnest.