Why Boston is the favorite
Anything about the Bruins has to start from the top. Their first line of David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Marchand is arguably the most dangerous in the NHL. Marchand hit 100 points, while Bergeron and Pastrnak both got around 80 despite playing in just 65 and 66 games, respectively. They could have a field day against a Toronto squad that struggles to defend the cycle. The Leafs rank 19th in cycle chances against, tied for worst among Eastern playoff teams.
Depth has been an issue before, but it’s much better this year for Boston. Jake DeBrusk hit a career-high 27 goals while David Krejci tied a career-high from 2008-09 with 73 points. At the deadline, they added Marcus Johansson and Charlie Coyle to bolster their middle six. Both players have yet to become regular producers, but there’s no doubt their roster is deeper with then in the lineup.
Boston is also a defensive force, allowing the 3rd-fewest goals against this season. Led by veteran Zdeno Chara and young gun Charlie McAvoy, their stingy defense makes life easy for Tuukka Rask. Only Thomas Greiss faces fewer shots per game than the Finn. The Bruins have also won three of the four matchups this season.
Why the Maple Leafs Could Pull Off the Upset
The Maple Leafs live and die by two things: Frederik Andersen and offensive firepower. Frederik Andersen was the 8th-most used goaltender this season with 60 starts despite missing some time with injuries throughout the year. He also faced the 2nd most total shots this season and the 3rd-most per game. On offense, they can score with the best of them, with the 4th-most goals per game. The offense is spread out through the lineup, with seven players reaching at least 20 goals, including defenseman Morgan Rielly.
The Bruins defense will give them a tough test, but this Leafs team is better than last year, when they pushed Boston to seven games, so they will be looking to turn the result in their favor this time. If Frederik Andersen is in the zone and their offense continues its fiery pace, there’s no doubt they could make it to the second round for the first time since the Mats Sundin days.