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Are the Maple Leafs due to upset the favoured Bruins?

I posted the following on Facebook, and wanted to share those thoughts here at Vintage Leaf Memories as well.


Well, it's been a while since the Maple Leafs have beaten the Bruins in a playoff series. Current Leaf fans well know that the Leafs have faced the Bruins twice in the playoffs in the past few years.

Those of us a bit (a lot, actually) older also well recall that we faced and lost to the "Big Bad Bruins" of Orr, Espo, Cheevers, Bucyk, Hodge, Cashman, Sanderson and other great Bruins in the spring of 1969, 1972 and 1974.

If memory serves, the last time the Leafs actually beat Boston in a best-of-seven series was back at the end of the 1958-'59 season. That was the year of their inspired late season playoff push, when they came from well behind in the standings over the last two weeks of the regular season to catch and surpass the New York Rangers to earn fourth place in the old six-team league.

They drew the Bruins in the first round. Boston had some really fine players like Harry Lumley, Ferny Flaman, a younger Johnny Bucyk and another future Hall-of-Famer, Leo Boivin.

I was very young at the time but that series and their upset of the Bruins in 7 games (Game 7 was at the old Boston Garden) is one of the more memorable playoff series in Leaf history. Johnny Bower had established himself as the team's number one netminder by playoff time under then new Head Coach and General Manager Punch Imlach. Guys like Duff, Armstrong, Regan, Horton, Stanley, Mahovlich (seen with George Armstrong, right) and especially Bobby Pulford were instrumental in the Leafs advancing to meet the vaunted Habs in the finals.

The Leafs managed to win Game 3 of the finals at home at the Gardens when Duff scored in overtime against Jacques Plante, but Montreal was just too much for the Leafs in that series, as they still were a year later when they beat Toronto in four straight in the finals on their way to their fifth consecutive Stanley Cup championship.

But for the Leafs, it was all part of the building process toward becoming champions themselves. By 1962, they had won their first Cup in over a decade, and went on to win three more championships in that decade.

As for the current Leafs, we'll soon see how they fare against a still fairly formidable Bruins squad this time around.


The Leafs have had, by most any measure, another strong regular season. But the feeling seems to be that any time now, Leaf fans will be expecting that "next step"- just like the promising Leaf team of the late 1950s.


  1. Well written Michael! The Leafs being the sole Canadian team still alive, we must root for them from Coast to Coast to Coast. Go Leafs Go!!!

  2. Well we know the answer now. So two years ago after 50 years I thought the Leafs maybe were not on the verge of a dynasty, but I thought they could win a few playoff rounds and in a few years maybe the Cup.

    Now I am 67 and seeing more of the same bad play and management and I am thinking there won't be another Cup in my lifetime. It wouldn't be so bad if the Bruins had outplayed the Leafs but they didn't, the Leafs goalie Andersen gifted the Bruins two goals and then let in a third where he is expected to make the save.

    Leafs need a few things including better defense but their greatest need is a goalie that can handle the pressure. Andersen was good this year until mid-Feb then he disappeared.

    A year ago he fell apart in game 7 and this year he sucked in both games 6 and 7. Occasionally he makes a save that looks good and Cherry starts ranting about how great he is but Cherry totally ignores all the soft goals he lets in.

    Playoff hockey games are almost always close tight games where one goal make the difference. The team that scored the first goal has won 78% of all game seven's. So if you spot a team two goals you are not usually coming back.

    Leafs were playing on the road and had the better of the play in the first period and then Freddie let in two easy simple saves that should never have gone in.

    So the Leafs are on the road playing a tough physical team that knows how to play the trap with five men playing defense. That was the difference. If Rask had spotted the Leafs a two goal lead we would have had a Leaf team sitting back playing trap hockey.

    It'll be the same thing next year if they don't have a goalie. They could also you a coach. Down two goals in the third and Babcock is playing the fourth line instead of Matthews and Tavares. Then with the goalie pulled has Marleau out. Babcock won a Cup with a powerhouse Detroit team and Gold medals with a stacked Canadian team but not much else. Babcock has been saying the same thing now for four years , "We have some good building blocks. We are going in the right direction." blah, blah, blah