What difference can two games make?
The Bruins, recently beaten by the Maple Leafs early in the series, were quick to settle in a comfort zone. The Leafs, meanwhile, looked disconcerted and unhinged by the second leg match in Boston.
All this took place in front of a raucous crowd of TD Garden, highlighted by the appearance of Rob Gronkowski Saturday night. The Bruins cheered on their fans as Charlie Coyle, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Danton Heinen found the back of the net in their rebound effort.
That's what we learned from Boston's 4-1 win to the best-of-seven series.
The fourth line sets the tone
Bruce Cassidy does not hesitate to place his fourth line facing the front line of the opposition. It was no surprise that Joakim Nordstrom, Noel Acciari and Chris Wagner made this mission in the second match against Zach Hyman, John Tavares and the talented Mitch Marner.
That sent two messages: Cassidy was not shy, and the Bruins were looking to display a physical tone early after being exposed in the first game.
"Yes, I just wanted to get into the game. And if you go against a qualified line, you want to sort of fail before and be tough with them," Wagner said of the start of the match against the Tavares line. "We did it all year. Me, Noel, Nordy and Sean [Kuraly]. It's a big responsibility and I thought we did a good job tonight. "
The fourth line displays this physical energy from the start. This had a ripple effect on the rest of the range. Even personalities such as Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak and David Krejci took part in the strike in the first match of the 20.
And that paid off on the early notice board. Coyle – snakebitten after many opportunities in the first game – scored at 4:44 to give the Bruins a quick lead on which to support him.
– Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) April 14, 2019
"Yes, they did a great job all year. Set the tone when you need it and play it pretty well, "said Coyle about the fourth line. "They are doing their part to stop their best players and it's huge. That's what makes the team, it's those little things that do not necessarily find the match sheet, but escape them. They have been like that all year and especially now, it's huge. "
The bad blood of DeBrusk and Kadri postponed from the first match
Jake DeBrusk had some bumps and bruises after being injured in the first match. Skeptics questioned his claim of being 100% overnight when DeBrusk lost control after trying to dismantle Marner's breakaway – which then led to a shorthanded – and suffer a lousy crash after a collision with Nazem Kadri.
Nevertheless, DeBrusk laced the skates for the second game. Just like Kadri. The two heads clashed several times on Saturday. It did not end well for both parties.
It started after DeBrusk's shot for the first period and a few shots later, before the officials separated the two wingers.
DeBrusk and Kadri are going pic.twitter.com/4fG8ks7rxV
– Marina Molnar (@mkmolnar) April 14, 2019
Then came a collision between the knees that sent Kadri to the locker room towards the end of the second period.
Kadri injured after Knee Knee Collision with DeBrusk pic.twitter.com/OaJOjzibeG
– Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) April 14, 2019
The enigmatic striker of the Leafs is back for the third. This is where things have degenerated into terrible territories. Kadri's useless counter-check on DeBrusk's face ended his late night in the third period.
Nazem Kadri crosses Jake DeBrusk in the face.
Kadri is the victim of a serious fault and a game foul of 5 minutes. pic.twitter.com/9CTdHuGNfb
– Conor Ryan (@ ConorRyan_93) April 14, 2019
You may remember, Kadri had been suspended from three matches for his success against a helpless Tommy Wingels in the first leg of the first round last year. He will not be so lucky this time because the league offered him an in-person hearing. You probably will not hear Kadri's name for the rest of the series.
DeBrusk, meanwhile, awaits the results of his tests in concussion protocol. The first player in 2015 does not have much to say about Kadri's post-game. It will let the player's safety handle the final verdict instead.
"Yeah, I think it's up to the league to decide to be honest," DeBrusk said. "Yes, I have no comments on that."
? DeBrusk does not have much to say about Kadri's success after passing some tests after the match. He does not see himself as a dirty player after commenting earlier on the collision of his knee with Kadri. pic.twitter.com/3TUlPM77tO
– Bruins Daily (@BruinsDaily) April 14, 2019
McAvoy played at an elite level
The Bruins played with four defensemen for much of the third period when Torey Krug and Connor Clifton made their way to the locker room. This does not alter the play of Charlie McAvoy. In fact, it has only improved.
McAvoy's puck prowess and smooth skating give the Bruins a dynamic in all three zones. The former star player at Boston University and first choice in 2016 was not shy either. He certainly joined the Boston hit parade on Saturday.
McAvoy's best ice time, with 25:44 minutes of play, was marked by a multitude of moments, from John Tavares in rag dolls to Tuukka Rask to fast and efficient skating in all three zones.
"Growing up watching the playoffs, I think one of the things you notice is how physical it is. The guys are playing hard, "said McAvoy about the contagious physical nature of the second game. Everyone's life is at stake and so we have guys who like to play this style. So we can do it and we just have to make sure we do it. "
The Bruins did not have Kevan Miller and John Moore in the first two games. They could be without Krug and Clifton when the series moves to Toronto.
The Maple Leafs will have some kind of response ready for Match 3 on Monday. McAvoy and the Bruins would like nothing more than to calm the crowd in Toronto.