Sports

Preview: Pressure mounts as Bruins return to Toronto for Game 6

Just the facts

When: Tonight, 8 p.m. Eastern

Or: Scotiabank Arena – Toronto, ON

How to follow: NESN, 98.5 The Sports Center, TBS, MAX

Opposing view: Pension puppets

Know your enemy

  • The Bruins lead the series, 3-2
  • Max Domi: 1G-3A-4PTS; Auston Matthews: 1G-2A-3PTS; Matthieu Knies: 2G-0A-2PTS
  • Joseph Woll: 1-0-0, 0.75 GAA, 0.970 save percentage

Game notes

  • Here we go again! I know you’re all tired of reading it, but just like last year, the Bruins are back on the road for a sixth game after wasting a chance to close the series and losing game five in overtime to a Atlantic Division opponent on a game-winning goal by a guy named Matthew. WHEN WILL THE SIMILARITIES END?
  • I apologize for the lack of insight, but I really have no idea what Jim Montgomery is going to do with his lineup tonight. Jeremy Swayman took the loss in Game 5, but he was also outstanding and was the only reason the B’s didn’t lose 4-1. Does Linus Ullmark enter? Is Matt Grzelcyk coming back? And from the start? Good luck, Jim.
  • The Leafs have fewer question marks in their lineup, as Joseph Woll was outstanding in Game 5. Their question mark, however, is significant, as the status of Auston Matthews remains up in the air. Matthews skated alone on Wednesday, but “he skated today” was the only update offered by Sheldon Keefe. I’m sure there’s some degree of Keefe playing coy, but it sure seems like Matthews might be dealing with something beyond an illness.
  • With his overtime winner Tuesday night, Matthew Knies became the Leafs’ first multi-goal scorer in the series. The Bruins have four guys with multiple goals (Trent Frederic, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, Jake DeBrusk).
  • Speaking of Pastrnak, he’s running out of time to make his mark offensively in this series. That’s not to say he’s been the problem, as he has four points, but he hasn’t had the kind of “Pastrnak playoff game” we’ve come to expect over the past few seasons. Game 6 would be a good time for a solid 2G-1A night. We also have to hope that he doesn’t feel any effect from the shot block on his knee or anywhere in that area in Game 5.
  • The pressure is also mounting on his Czech counterpart Pavel Zacha, who has only managed two assists in the series and is below 50% at the faceoff point. Again, this is not a player you would say he was awful, but someone the B’s could definitely use a boost from in this game.
  • Sorry to use the same turn of phrase twice, but speaking of faceoffs: the Bruins, as a team, have the third-worst faceoff winning percentage of the 16 teams in the playoffs. The only teams below are Washington (44.5%, they were swept) and Colorado (44.4%, they are in the second round). Obviously, these anecdotes show that faceoffs aren’t always a harbinger of team success, but that doesn’t help when you’re chasing possession most of the time.
  • It’s a bit dramatic, but this game could go a long way to defining Montgomery’s tenure with the Bruins. The team’s performance in Game 5, particularly in the first half, was among the worst in recent memory, and while the players deserve most of the blame, Montgomery and Co. are not innocent. He invited some pressure on the roster last game, and if the team is considering another Game 7 after what happened last year, the questions will mount.
  • The B’s will also need a performance that will make the difference from their captain, who was disappointing in the fifth match. He seemed to be playing with more edge and more energy in front of the hostile road crowd, but so far in the series he’s either been the better player on the ice or he’s been almost invisible.

See you tonight !

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