By HOWARD BERGER
BOSTON (Mar. 20) – It wouldn’t likely require a lot of research to determine whether the Maple Leafs have been slaughtered so regularly by one team in the post-80-game era (since 1974) as they were this season by the Boston Bruins.
Perhaps as a gift to the great Bobby Orr – who today celebrates his final birthday before senior citizenry – the Bruins capped off a six-game annihilation of the Leafs at TD Garden on Tuesday night with an 8-0 rout. It was Toronto’s most lop-sided defeat of the season and it ended a clean-sweep in which the defending Stanley Cup champions enjoyed a ridiculous 36-10 edge in goals. Leafs were overcome by Boston 6-2, 7-0, 6-3, 4-1, 5-4 and 8-0. It sounds like the result of a marathon match involving a blind tennis player.
And it likely re-kindled memories for Orr – 64 today – who frequently led the Bruins to embarrassment of the Leafs during his years as the greatest hockey player of all time. Perhaps a reminder of the 1969 Stanley Cup quarterfinals is in order… the Bruins opening a best-of-seven series at home with 10-0 and 7-0 victories over the Blue and White. Moments after Boston completed a four-game sweep at Maple Leaf Gardens, Leaf owner Stafford Smythe fired GM/coach Punch Imlach – beginning Toronto’s behind-the-bench carousel that continued a couple of weeks ago with Randy Carlyle replacing Ron Wilson.
Carlyle was completely at a loss to explain his team’s total capitulation here on Tuesday and who could blame him? No one else had any answers.
RESULT OF THE CARNAGE IS DISPLAYED ON TD GARDEN VIDEO-BOARD.
A merciful result of the bludgeoning will be to silence – for good – those that actually began to re-introduce “playoffs” into the Leaf vocabulary after consecutive wins last week over Tampa Bay and Ottawa. It doesn’t take much to get a Leaf fan excited, but most would agree the club’s seventh year of playoff absence was sealed during the 1-9-1 February nose-dive that cost Wilson his job.
Please now enjoy – if you can – my photo-review of the final Toronto-Boston encounter of 2011-12: and drink a toast to that, Leafs Nation:
AFTER A DAY OF TEMPERATURES IN THE LOW-80s, IT COOLED OFF IN LATE-AFTERNOON – BUT STILL MADE FOR A BEAUTIFUL EVENING IN DOWNTOWN BOSTON (ABOVE).
AS PER THE NORM, LOCAL FANS MIXED WITH THE EVER-PRESENT ROOTERS FROM TORONTO (ABOVE) WHILE WALKING PAST AREA PUBS TO THE TD GARDEN.
SUPPORT-CABLES (ABOVE) OVER THE LEONARD P. ZAKIM-BUNKER HILL MEMORIAL BRIDGE ADJACENT TO TD GARDEN – A SPAN OF INTERSTATE-93 THAT CROSSES THE CHARLES RIVER.
ARENA EXTERIOR AND YELLOWED-ICE PRIOR TO GAME TIME.
TD GARDEN FILLS (ABOVE) IN VIEW FROM THE PRESS BOX, AS LEAFS AND BRUINS WARM UP. THE TEAM-CAPTAINS – ZDENO CHARA AND DION PHANEUF – LOOK ON (BELOW).
THE NATIONAL ANTHEMS ARE BELTED OUT BY RENE RANCOURT (ABOVE AND BELOW) AS THEY HAVE BEEN FOR YEARS AT BRUINS GAMES, DATING TO THE OLD BOSTON GARDEN.
MIKHAIL GRABOVSKI AND DAVID KREJCI FACE OFF AT CENTRE ICE (ABOVE).
GOALS BY CHRIS KELLY AND GREGORY CAMPBELL IN THE OPENING 5:40 OF PLAY (ABOVE) PROVIDED BOSTON MORE THAN ENOUGH OFFENSE ON THIS NIGHT.
LEAFS WERE SHOOTING BLANKS AT THE MIDWAY POINT OF THE FIRST PERIOD (ABOVE) AND AFTER FALLING BEHIND THE BRUINS BY THREE (BELOW).
CLARKE MacARTHUR VENTURES ABOUT AS CLOSE TO THE BRUINS NET AS ANY LEAFS PLAYER IN THE OPENING PERIOD (ABOVE). DURING MUCH OF THE NIGHT, BRUINS GOALIE TIM THOMAS WAITED PATIENTLY (BELOW) FOR SOME ACTION.
BRAD MARCHAND’S GOAL (ABOVE) AT 12:42 OF THE FIRST PERIOD GAVE BOSTON A 4-0 LEAD AND SPELLED THE END FOR STARTING GOALIE JAMES REIMER (BELOW), WHO COULD HARDLY HAVE BEEN FAULTED. IT WAS A MERCY-PULL BY RANDY CARLYLE, THOUGH JONAS GUSTAVSSON MAY NOT HAVE FELT THE COACH’S SYMPATHY.
LUKE SCHENN AND MIKE KOMISAREK WERE THE ONLY LEAFS TO SHOW SOME JAM – SCHENN FIGHTING WITH CAMPBELL (ABOVE-LEFT); KOMISAREK WITH NEMESIS MILAN LUCIC (RIGHT).
THE SCOREBOARD GREW UGLIER FOR THE LEAFS… AND UGLIER… AND UGLIER.
WATER DRIES ON FRESHLY RE-SURFACED ICE (ABOVE) BEFORE SECOND PERIOD.
GUSTAVSSON MADE AN EARLY SAVE OFF TYLER SEGUIN (ABOVE) BUT POULIOT AND CHARA THEN BEAT HIM IN A 3:14 SPAN (BELOW), INCREASING BOSTON’S ADVANTAGE TO 6-0.
MOST OF THE ACTION WAS OBVIOUSLY IN THE VISITORS’ END AND GUSTAVSSON APPEARED TO BE CHECKING FOR ALL HIS EQUIPMENT (ABOVE-RIGHT) AS BRUINS HAD TAKEN EVERYTHING ELSE FROM HIM AND THE LEAFS.
THERE WAS NO JOY ON THE LEAFS BENCH OR AMONG TORONTO-CLAD SPECTATORS AT TD GARDEN (ABOVE), AS THE BRUINS PORED IT ON THEIR HAPLESS RIVAL.
GIVEN THE GAME’S PATTERN, TYLER BOZAK OF THE MAPLE LEAFS ALMOST LOOKED OUT OF PLACE STANDING BETWEEN THOMAS AND DEFENSEMAN DENNIS SEIDENBERG (ABOVE).
TYLER SEGUIN WRAPPED UP THE SLAUGHTER (ABOVE) WITH 1:29 LEFT ON THE CLOCK.
ONE LAST “GOODBYE” FROM THE BRUINS TO THE LEAFS OCCURRED AT THE FINAL BUZZER (ABOVE AND BELOW), AS PLAYERS PUSHED AND SHOVED IN THE CORNER.
BRUINS CELEBRATED THE WIN (ABOVE) WHILE COACH CLAUDE JULIEN TRIED TO KEEP A STRAIGHT-FACE IN HIS POST-GAME SESSION WITH REPORTERS (BELOW).
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