PREVIEW: Pressure mounts as the Bruins return to Toronto for Game 6

Just the facts

when: Tonight, 8(ish) PM ET

where: Scotiabank Arena – Toronto, Ontario

How to proceed: NESN, 98.5 The Sports Hub, TBS, MAX

Opposing point of view: Pension plan dummies

Know your enemy

  • The Bruins lead the series 3-2
  • Max Dome: 1G-3A-4PTS; Auston Matthews: 1G-2A-3PTS; Matthew Kniss: 2G-0A-2PTS
  • Joseph Wall: 1-0-0, 0.75 GAA, 0.970 save percentage

Game notes

  • here we go again! I know you're all sick of reading it, but just like last year, the Bruins went back on the road for Game 6 after missing a chance to close out the series and losing Game 5 in overtime to an Atlantic Division opponent on a game-winning goal by a guy named Matthew. When will the similarities end?
  • I apologize for the lack of foresight, but I really have no idea what Jim Montgomery will do with his lineup tonight. Jeremy Swayman lost in Game 5, but he was also great and was the only reason Team 2 didn't lose 4-1. Is Linus Ullmark coming? Is Matt Grzelcyk coming back? What about the offensive line? Good luck, Jim.
  • The Leafs have fewer question marks in their lineup, as Joseph Wall was impressive in Game 5. However, their question mark is huge, as Auston Matthews' status remains up in the air. Matthews skated alone Wednesday, but “He skated today” was the only update Sheldon Keefe provided. I'm sure there's a degree of shyness played by Keefe, but it certainly seems like Matthews might be dealing with something beyond illness.
  • With Tuesday night's overtime win, Matthew Kniss became the Leafs' first multi-goal scorer in the series. The Bruins have four guys with multiple targets (Trent Frederic, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, Jake DeBrusk).
  • Speaking of Pastrnak, he no longer has time to make his offensive impact in this series. That's not to say he was the problem, as he got four points, but he just didn't have the kind of 'Pasrnak playoff game' we've come to expect over the past few seasons. Game 6 will be a great time for a strong 2G-1A night. One also has to hope he doesn't feel any effects from the shot that hit his knee or somewhere in that area in Game 5.
  • Pressure is also mounting on his Czech counterpart Pavel Zacha, who has managed just two passes in the series and is below 50% on the face-off point. Again, not a player you could say was terrible, but someone with a B-list could certainly use a jolt from him in this game.
  • Sorry to use the same phrase twice, but speaking of matchups: The Bruins, as a team, have the third-worst head-to-head winning percentage among all 16 playoff teams. The only teams below them are Washington (44.5%, they were swept) and Colorado (44.4%, they are in the second round). Obviously you can tell from those anecdotes that confrontations are not always a harbinger of a team's success, but they don't help when you're chasing possession most of the time.
  • It's a little dramatic, but this game could go a long way toward defining Montgomery's tenure with the Bruins. The team's performance in Game 5, especially in the first period, was among the worst in recent memory, and while the players deserve most of the blame, Montgomery and Co. are not innocent. It invited some pressure with the lineup shuffle in the last game, and if the team is staring at another Game 7 after what happened last year, the questions will grow.
  • The B's will also need a difference-making performance from their captain, who was disappointingly quiet in Game 5. He looked like he was playing with more edge and more energy in front of a hostile road crowd, but so far in the series, he's either been the best player on the ice or Almost invisible.
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see you tonight!

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