The Prediction: (4) Boston Bruins v. (5) Toronto Maple Leafs

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by Turner Lavoie

Literary Correspondent, White Cover Magazine

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The Setup:

Congrats, Toronto. You made it. Your award is a first-round showdown with the only team that’s seemed to be able to unilaterally embarrass you in your entire recent history.

Enjoy.

The Key Players:

Phil Kessel is the best player in the series, and that evaluation includes competition like Zdeno Chara, Tyler Seguin, Patrice Bergeron, and his teammate Joffrey Lupul.

Kessel’s history between Toronto and Boston has mainly been a negative one — either the Bruins loathe a guy who seemed more than happy to abandon their Boylston Street shenanigans for almost anywhere else, or the Leafs still doubt he was worth the package they sent Boston’s way (which ended up including No. 2 overall pick Tyler Seguin).

James Reimer will see this first-ever late April, while Tuukka Rask takes over as a playoff No. 1 for the second time in his career — and the first time since Tim Thomas resurrected and then buried himself in one swift motion.

Nazem Kadri will be counted on in Toronto, as will James van Riemsdyk.

Brad Marchand is a dangerously violent little ball of hate, but he doesn’t get near enough credit for his offensive flair.

The X Factor:

Brad Marchand. If he’s on top of his game and striking fear into his opponents, he’s the pint-sized engine that makes the Bruins steam ship go.

Boston Wins If…

They can channel the hard-nosed game that has dominated Toronto since 2011.

Toronto Wins If…

They forget about their record against Boston or the fact that they’re the first Leafs to make the postseason in nine years. That kind of pressure is more a burden than a motivator.

The Prediction:

This isn’t really a question of, Can Toronto beat Boston? It’s more a question of, Will the Bruins lose to Toronto?

Whenever that’s the case, the tie goes to the runner. But, I can still see Toronto getting three home games out of it.

Boston in 6.