NHL reveals schedule for Leafs-Bruins in Round 1 of the Playoffs

Mike Armenti
April 19, 2024  (9:06)

Auston Matthews celebrates a huge goal
Photo credit: Toronto Maple Leafs on Twitter/X

After some late season position shifting, the Toronto Maple Leafs watched the Florida Panthers leapfrog the Boston Bruins for top spot in the Atlantic Division, ultimately setting up an Original Six matchup against the Bruins in Round 1.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't more excited for a Leafs/Bruins series than I was about the idea of facing the Florida Panthers in the first round, largely because I feel like the Bruins are a better matchup for the Leafs. Yes, they're still a dangerous team, and yes, there are plenty of ways for this series to end in the Bruins' favour, but a quick glance at Boston's lines versus Florida's lines will provide a pretty good comparison and make it clear why the Leafs' chances against Boston are endlessly better than they'd have been against Florida.
The Tyler Bertuzzi, Auston Matthews, Max Domi line matches up well against any of the Bruins' 4 lines. The same goes for the Bobby McMann (if healthy), John Tavares, Mitch Marner line. However, where things really become a nightmare for Boston is that the Leafs are expected to have Nylander on the third line, which means that the Boston Bruins are going to have to choose who to deploy their top defensive forwards against, leaving at least one of Matthews, Marner or Nylander with a favourable matchup.
The Bruins' top 4 centers are Pavel Zacha, Charlie Coyle, Morgan Geekie and Jesper Boqvist. When compared to the Leafs' compliment of centers, which includes Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Pontus Holmberg and David Kamf, it becomes pretty clear very quickly that the Leafs have a distinct advantage down the middle of the ice. The Bruins' blueline is also not nearly as stingy as Florida's blueline, which should provide the Leafs with plenty of additional scoring chances across the entire series as well.
The Bruins do have a formidable tandem in Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark, which is probably the biggest concern at this point. Neither Ilya Samsonov nor Joseph Woll ended their 2023-24 regular season particularly well, so the Leafs are going to have to play a much more defensively responsible game than maybe we're used to seeing to try to limit Boston's chances. However, at the other end of the ice, the Leafs should be able to feast on whoever gets the nod for Boston with some of the mismatches the Leafs are able to create.
As far as when the games will be taking place, the league has officially announced the playoff schedule for the first 4 games, with games 5, 6 and 7 currently listed as "TBA", or "to be announced". Game 1, as we all know, will take place tomorrow night in Boston, with the puck expected to drop a little past 8 p.m. ET. The full schedule is as follows:
Game 1: Maple Leafs at Bruins -- Saturday 8 p.m. ET
Game 2: Maple Leafs at Bruins -- April 22, 7 p.m. ET
Game 3: Bruins at Maple Leafs -- April 24, 7 p.m. ET
Game 4: Bruins at Maple Leafs -- April 27, 8 p.m. ET
Game 5: Maple Leafs at Bruins -- April 30, TBD
Game 6: Bruins at Maple Leafs -- May 2, TBD
Game 7: Maple Leafs at Bruins -- May 4, TBD
Obviously, it goes without saying that the Leafs certainly want to take at least one of the first two games of the series to steal home ice advantage from the Bruins. If they can do that, they'll position themselves well to be able to put the Bruins on their heels.
The Leafs have not beaten the Bruins in the playoffs since 1959, but with how the teams have changed over the years, we can hardly fault this year's iteration of the team for the previous iterations' failures. This is very much a different group and they play a very different way with the likes of Bertuzzi, Domi, Reaves, Edmundson and Benoit covering the "snot" aspect, Matthews, Marner, Nylander and Tavares providing the skill aspect, and McMann, Knies and Robertson providing some young legs and untapped potential to the mix. When you blend those elements with the added experience of the core knowing what it felt like to win a round last season and then suffer a humiliating defeat to Florida in Round 2, the stars could finally be aligning for a deeper playoff run in Toronto. It all begins tomorrow night in Boston.
19 AVRIL   |   397 ANSWERS
NHL reveals schedule for Leafs-Bruins in Round 1 of the Playoffs

Which member of Toronto's Core 4 will finish with the most points in Round 1?

Mitch Marner12230.7 %
John Tavares4210.6 %
William Nylander5614.1 %
Auston Matthews17744.6 %
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