Gaggy Bruins Face Pukey Leafs in Game 7 Choke-Off

Which team is more likely to blow it on Saturday night?

The Toronto Maple Leafs skate against the Boston Bruins.
Maple Leafs-Bruins on Saturday night is not going to be pretty.
Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty

On Cinco De Mayo Eve following the running of the 150th Kentucky Derby, the Maple Leafs and Bruins are going to play Game 7 of their first-round playoff series at TD Garden on a night that is nearly guaranteed to end in a Boston Massacre. What’s still very much in doubt is which team is going to be on the receiving end.

The oddsmakers have the Bruins, who set the all-time points record in the NHL last season and will be playing in front of their home crowd, favored to win and advance to take on the Florida Panthers in Round 2. But those all-time Bruins also lost in the first round of the playoffs last year at home in Game 7 in a series they led 3-1, the same exact situation they now find themselves facing. Home has not been a kind place for the Bruins — they’ve dropped five out of their last six postseason games at TD Garden — and neither has Game 7 as Boston has lost its last three.

Having the odds on their side is great, but what should really give the Bruins confidence is that the team on the other side of the ice may be the only franchise that is better at choking than they are. Prior to winning a first-round series over the Lightning last year before getting knocked out of the playoffs by the Panthers, the wilting Leafs had not won a postseason matchup since the 2003-04 campaign. That streak of suckitude included five Game 7 defeats, three of which were handed out by the Bruins, a team Toronto has not beaten in playoffs since 1959. Since that series win, the Leafs have lost seven straight postseason series to Boston. On Saturday, they can make it eight.

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But they’ll need some help, and it’s far from certain if Boston will be ready, willing and able to give it to them as the Bruins have been embarrassingly bad since Toronto started backup goalie Joseph Woll two games ago and have managed just two goals combined in Game 5 and 6. The Bruins, who have a total of three shots on goal in their past two first periods, are so tight they could explode at any minute — and there’s a very good chance they will. But there’s also a strong chance the Leafs will recall they are the Leafs and pre-empt the B’s with their own implosion.

Given both teams’ propensity to poop down their respective hockey pants, the Bruins’ best hope is the Leafs, and the Leafs’ best hope is the Bruins. No matter what happens in Game 7, neither will have much hope against Florida.

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