Bruins-Leafs Game 4: Toronto Different Club at Home, Will Even Series

Wednesday, April 18, 2018 1:04 PM UTC

Wednesday, Apr. 18, 2018 1:04 PM UTC

The first-round Eastern Conference series between Original Six clubs Boston and Toronto has been very entertaining, and the Leafs look to tie things up Thursday at home.

Game 4: Boston (2-1) at Toronto (1-2)Free NHL Pick: Maple Leafs (& Over)Best Line Offered: YouWager

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In this writer’s opinion, the most entertaining first-round playoff series has been the only one to feature Original Six teams: Boston & Toronto. Two hockey-mad markets. The Bruins made the Maple Leafs look silly in winning the first two games in Beantown in blowout fashion, but Toronto can even things up 2-2 at home on Thursday with a victory to make it a best-of-3.

It’s a 7 p.m. ET puck drop on the NBC Sports Network.

Of course, a win here would mean Toronto is guaranteed at least one more home game this postseason. On the updated Bovada series line, Boston is -300 and the Leafs +250. The Bruins are +270 to win the Eastern Conference and Toronto +1250.

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Leafs Continue Home Dominance

Toronto’s defense was awful in the first two games, losing 5-1 and 7-3. Then again, the Leafs were very inconsistent on the road this season but excellent at home at 29-10-2. Only Winnipeg and Pittsburgh had more regulation home victories.

Home-ice advantage was the difference in Game 3 as the Leafs won 4-2. Superstar Auston Matthews, who didn’t have a point in the first two games, scored the go-ahead goal at 14:47 of the second, and Patrick Marleau added the clincher at 16:25 of the third for his second of the game. Marleau became the oldest player in team history to score in the playoffs at 38 years and 213 days.

Neither of those guys where the No. 1 star, though. That went to goaltender Frederik Andersen, who stopped 40 of 42 shots. The Dane had allowed five goals on 40 shots in Game 1 and was pulled from Game 2 after surrendering three on just five shots. He was much better at home in the regular season, going 23-8-2 with a 2.64 GAA and .924 save percentage.

The Leafs played Game 3 without Leo Komarov due to a lower-body injury, and he could be a game-time decision for Thursday. He had 19 points in 74 regular-season games and none in the first two of this series. Toronto was again missing Nazem Kadri for the second game of a three-game suspension for his hit on Tommy Wingels in Game 1. Kadri was fourth on the team in scoring during the year with 55 points.

Boston's top line of David Pastrnak (four goals, five assists), Brad Marchand (one goal, five assists) and Patrice Bergeron (five assists) combined for 20 points in the first two games. In Game 3, none of them scored. The trio was a combined minus-7 and on the ice for the Maple Leafs' eventual winning goal.

Defensemen Adam McQuaid and Zdeno Chara had the goals. Sean Kuraly's line was on the ice for both of the goals, and he assisted on both. Center Riley Nash (ear laceration) played the first time since March 31 and had a team-high five shots on goal, tied with Chara.

  • Bruins are 0-5 in their last 5 road games.
  • Maple Leafs are 5-0 in their last 5 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
  • Maple Leafs are 10-4 in their last 14 after allowing 2 goals or less in their previous game.

Boston is the better team and should win the series but is 0-5 in its past five in Toronto. Plus, the Leafs are different animals in the Air Canada Centre madhouse. Stick with the home side for a Thursday NHL pick in what should be another fairly high-scoring game.

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