BOSTON — Time for a do-over.
If not done right, the Bruins are halfway to done in their first-round playoff series against the Maple Leafs.
The Bruins, who committed almost every cardinal sin possible in their 4-1 loss on Thursday night, got another chance against the Leafs on Saturday night in Game 2 at TD Garden. The home ice advantage they brought into the best-of-7 series won’t be restored with a Game 2 win, but it would put them in a much more viable position than lugging an 0-2 deficit to Toronto for Games 3 and 4.
There’s no shortage of mistakes the Bruins couldn’t afford to repeat on Saturday, but a primary goal is to make the Maple Leafs work a little harder than in Game 1. Whether by hitting them more often, holding the puck longer or taking steps to slow the Leafs down when they want to go fast, the Bruins can’t let the Leafs play to their strengths again in Game 2.
“We had lapses. We had mistakes,” center Charlie Coyle said. “We kind of let (the Leafs) have it easy, to be honest. We gave them a lot.”
Whether because of blatant turnovers, mishandled pucks or missed defensive assignments, the Maple Leafs enjoyed a series of breakaways and outmanned rushes in Game 1 — especially in the second period, when they turned a 1-1 game into a 3-1 lead.
That they’ll seize on any opportunity to use their top-to-bottom speed and skill to create scoring chances was expected. That the Leafs would be the more physically aggressive team was a surprise — as was their ability to clamp down defensively in front of goalie Frederik Andersen. He had to make 21 saves in the second period, but his teammates limited the Bruins to nine shots in the third.
“You’re expecting, in Game 1, to be on your game,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We weren’t, as much as we’d like. ... We didn’t play a smart enough hockey game and we paid the price.”
Cassidy said the B’s must do a better job of weighing “appropriate risk-reward” and “how aggressive to be” when attempting to create offense in Game 2. The Bruins know they can’t keep the puck away from the Leafs forever, but the difference between handing it over and making them work to take it and keep it can be significant.
“They leave the (defensive) zone all the time, and they’ve got fast forwards,” center David Krejci said. “So when you have the puck, you have to make smart plays at the right times.
“The first game is behind us, so we know what to expect. We know we can hold onto the puck a little more.”
Coyle, whom Cassidy called “arguably our best player” in Game 1, agrees with Krejci. He and linemates Danton Heinen and Marcus Johansson were the Bruins’ best group when it came to trapping the Maple Leafs in their defensive zone for extended stretches, but a blip during an odd-man rush ultimately cost the line a goal: Johansson didn’t cover quickly enough for defenseman Matt Grzelcyk, who lingered in the offensive zone trying to win back the puck after his 2-on-1 pass to Coyle was broken up, and that gap in coverage led to a breakaway opportunity for William Nylander, who made it 3-1 with 1:35 left in the second period.
“We want to have more zone time,” said Coyle, who finished Game 1 with three shots (not including one that hit a post) and seven hits. “I think that would be huge for us.
“That’s my game, and it’s our team’s game. We want to wear down their defensemen. We can take advantage if we do it that way — we just have to be smart about it. We’ve got to make sure we cover everyone if they get it back, too.”
Jake DeBrusk experienced two hard crashes into the boards in Game 1 and was given a maintenance day on Friday. Whether DeBrusk plays Game 2 or not, Cassidy may add veteran winger David Backes to the lineup, to be certain the Bruins bring a more physical presence.
“We weren’t good enough in that area,” Cassidy said. “We went through our lineup (after Game 1), and (the Maple Leafs) probably outplayed us at every position,” Cassidy said. “They outcoached us, obviously, so they deserved to win.”