But the core from the 2011 championship team is very much in tact, with Brad Marchand, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Adam McQuaid, Chara and Rask logging serious minutes this year against Toronto.
Game 7 is Wednesday night in Boston with the victor advancing to face Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference semifinals. But on the face of it, some of the numbers look damning. Blowing the zone without knowing the Bruins had the puck might have been fine in a January game against Arizona, but not in the playoffs. The playoffs, you look at his numbers, that line hasn't produced a lot at 5-on-5. Bergeron ruled the faceoff circle, winning 79 per cent of his draws, 23 out of 29.
Tomas Plekanec added an empty-net goal late in the third. That's why the Maple Leafs have become a shot-blocking machine after ranking 27th in that department in the regular season.
Hours after a van struck and killed 10 pedestrians and wounded many others in Toronto, the host Maple Leafs beat the Boston Bruins 3-1 in Game 6 to force a seventh game in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series. From last game, I can remember two or three big saves that Frederik Anderson made to keep his team in the lead. A goal on either chance would have been a back-breaker for the Leafs.
If Boston loses Game 7, it will likely be because Andersen pulls off another miracle and the Leafs execute some well-timed counterstrikes in limited opportunities with their skill. Everything has not only gone to plan, it's gone to plan much quicker than anyone, including the Bruins' brass, expected. Consider Pastrnak's reaction when someone asked him in the wake of Monday's loss what adjustments he had to make to resume scoring. With injuries juggling the lineup a couple of times, Heinen, Backes and Riley Nash - a line that was red-hot a few months ago - barely had a chance to get back on track before Cassidy's decision to sit Heinen. "Goalie makes saves. I think that's a pretty stupid question".
This time another young player by the name Mitch Marner put it home to give the Toronto squad a lead they would not relinquish. The Leafs tied it just 35 seconds later when Toronto's William Nylander buried a rebound off a Jake Gardiner shot from the point for his first goal of the playoffs. And, of course, Marner also led the way offensively for the Leafs. While players were adamant their confidence in each other has never wavered, it took some time for that swagger to translate back into their game on the ice.
"I think [our belief in ourselves] comes from the way we've played over the course of the year; the confidence we have in our team and the different ways we've been able to respond to adversity throughout the course of the season", van Riemsdyk said. They (the officials) did a good job. They've got to do it again.
This win might be the most special one of the season, as they were playing for the City yesterday after the events that took place in North York.