Physicality proving decisive factor in series, and Bruins lacked it in Game 3


The biggest hit of the night was a case of friendly fire on the part of the Boston Bruins when Charlie McAvoy tossed John Tavares into Tuukka Rask. All of New England's hearts stopped for a collective moment. 

Other than that, the physicality that launched the Bruins to victory in Game 2 was nonexistent on the black and gold's bench. 

Charlie McAvoy knocks John Tavares into Tuukka Rask. He's staying in the game.

— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) April 16, 2019

It was a different story for the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

"I think they were a little more physical than they were in the last game," Brad Marchand said after the game. "And maybe we weren't as much. But it is what it is." 

The script of the series was flipped for the third time in three games on Monday night. The team who's succeeded in the physicality department has been winning and it's changed by the game. 

The Leafs outhit the Bruins 33-31 in Game 1. Maple Leafs won 4-1. 

The Bruins outhit the Leafs 44-39 in Game 2. Bruins won 4-1. 

The Leafs outhit the Bruins 42-33 in Game 3. Maple Leafs won 3-2. 

"I feel like we played much harder and we forechecked hard," said Zach Hyman. "We were heavier on the puck, we didn't lose it too much so we didn't have to back check a lot. It was more controlled play and so we didn't have to waste a lot of energy in our own zone."

--BIG HIT--Down goes the big man! #LeafsForever Zach Hyman takes down #NHLBruins Zdeno Chara

— Boston Bruins on CLNS (@BruinsCLNS) April 16, 2019

The forecheck was another part the Bruins were lacking Monday night. David Krejci's goal was created from it, but other than that the B's struggled to maintain pressure all night. 

It also didn't help the Bruins that the Maple Leafs are a fast team in general. 

"They're a fast team and we understand that so I think it's more our forecheck in the neutral zone," said Jake DeBrusk. "They got through way too easy today and there's other times where they seemed more urgent, so credit to them." 

DeBrusk was one of many Bruins whose physical presence went from 100 to zero between Games 2 and 3, as he totaled no hits on Monday night. David Backes, the Bruins self-proclaimed bruiser, only had two hits in Game 3 after crunching Maple Leafs seven different times in Game 2. 

The only time the Bruins seemed to be keeping up with the Maple Leafs in the hits department was the first period. It's no coincidence that the teams were tied after one. 

"It was a good first period," said Bruce Cassidy. "There was physicality on both sides. They came out and skated hard -- they won a few more pucks than us. We got through it." 

The scoreless tie was spoiled when fourth line grinder Trevor Moore and his fleet outmuscled and outhit the Bruins fourth line to create a 1-0 Leafs lead. 

Trevor Moore. Icebreaker.His first #StanleyCup Playoff goal. #BOSvsTOR here:

— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) April 16, 2019

"We decided before the game that we're going to play a simple style of hockey, get in there on the forecheck, just work hard and win battles," said Moore. "I thought we did that pretty well." 

In Game 3, the Bruins didn't have the raucous TD Garden crowd behind every hit or Rob Gronkowski as banner captain to pump up an already inebriated crowd. 

But it's the playoffs and it's crunch time. 


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