Last night’s Leafs-Bruins game had a special family component for the visiting Leafs.
Their dads were on hand to cheer on their sons in Beantown as part of a father-son road trip, courtesy of MLSE.
Too bad it had to be against Boston. Their progeny must’ve looked like little boys vs the manly Bruins.
Let’s face it. The Leafs, right now, promising as they might be after an excellent start, just can’t beat this team. They could play them 20 times and maybe get two wins but even a broken clock is right twice a day.
The season record against the Bruins in four games: Boston 23, Toronto 6.
That pretty much says it in a nutshell.
The fact starting goalie James Reimer made a surprise return after missing 18 games only made a slight difference. With the Monster in net it might’ve been 6-1 or 7-1 though the Leafs did compete by staying close the first two periods.
Noticeably absent in this latest Bruin beatdown was of course Phil Kessel, who again was pointless and looked intimidated at times. He was all but a non-factor in his latest fruitless search for cajones against his old team.
Zdeno Chara never looks as good as he does against Phil Kessel. Kessel’s numbers vs Bruins are ghastly. He’s a minus-7 in four games against Boston this year. Just seven points in 16 games since becoming an ex-Bruin.
Chara and the rest of the Boston crew are in this guy’s head and the Bruins couldn’t care less that Kessel had built up some cred by being the league’s leading scorer. Think that concerned them?
Chara was probably thinking in that charming accent, “OK, Kessel leading NHL scorer. Come down my side Mr. Big Scorer I make you leading girly-man. Ha ha ha.” And Kessel knows it. The threat of physical intimidation still matters in this game and PK is one of those guys that’s just not going to challenge that. He’s just not wired that way.
Bit of shame but that’s just what you have with Kessel. He’s not a player that will carry a team through a couple of rounds of playoffs. He desperately needs a 1A to his #1 to take the pressure off him – and the search for one of those guys remains elusive.
But it’s unfair that the Leafs horrible record vs the Bruins is hung on Number 81 alone. He is but one skater out there. This team, despite what Brian Burke intended, does not have truculence and toughness as its core identity. The Bruins must make Burke do a slow burn as they are exactly the team he no doubt envisioned for his Leafs.
But they’re not. For better or worse (and the worse shows up against the Bruins) it is a speed, forecheck and skill team.
The jury is still very much out on how far that will carry them, especially if they continue to slip in the standings from their once lofty perch a few short games ago.
Right now, the Leafs have come up miserably short of what they’d hoped for in this home-at-home series. It’s a sobering reality check. The Bruins are unquestionably the league’s best in the last five weeks. Cripes, they haven’t lost in regulation since October, steam-rolling everyone in their path.
Still, it must be crystal clear to management how far the team still has to go to challenge the best. It’s going to take a couple of whipsmart moves by B. Burke & Co. while at the same time hoping like hell with all the depth they’ve built someone or maybe a couple, will blossom into difference makers.