Bruins saved by once-missing talents, take-charge effort in Game 6 win

Apr 21, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk (74) celebrates with forward David Pastrnak (88) after scoring a goal as Toronto Maple Leafs forward Andreas Johnsson (18) skates away in the second period in game six of the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com

It took just one Morgan Rielly goal scored 9:42 into Sunday's Game 6 to make you think the Bruins were in serious trouble.

The Bruins, the team that had survived everything thrown their way to date, looked lost. Their puck-management looked horrendous once again, Toronto's speed was on full display, and the usually-quiet Scotiabank Arena was bumping. And considering the dud the Bruins had already dropped on you in Game 5, and the disturbing amount of no-shows up and down the B's roster to that point, it was hard to feel optimistic about their game turning around in time.

Then came a fortunate bounce on a Brad Marchand power-play shot, good for his third goal of the postseason. Then Torey Krug overcame a horrible power-play sequence -- he turned the puck over right over the Toronto blue line and then attempted a long-distance pass that went nowhere -- and hammered a puck through Frederik Andersen to give Boston a 2-1 lead.

And in what was a dominant 30-minute stretch that saw the Leafs go without a shot for the first seven minutes of the middle frame, the Bruins found some necessary insurance behind a Jake DeBrusk goal to make it 3-1. It was DeBrusk's first goal of the series, and it was behind the hard work and effort that made DeBrusk a 27-goal scorer in the regular season. In other words, it was the first time DeBrusk looked like DeBrusk since Nazem Kadri took a CCM to his dome.

Marchand. Krug. DeBrusk.

Pretty much the three crucial pieces of the Boston offense that you've been missing since the jump, really.

For Marchand, maybe his production was to be expected. He's one of the Black and Gold's most vocal leaders on and off the ice (and that group held a meeting on Saturday night before Game 6), has a knack for big goals, and he's simply too good to be this snakebitten in the attacking zone, especially on the power play. Those problems seem so 2012-2014, you know.

But in the case of Krug and DeBrusk, their production was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Let's be real: Neither player has looked right this series. Krug was absolutely rocked by Jake Muzzin in Game 2 and his decision-making with the puck was downright odd at times. And that aforementioned Kadri incident with DeBrusk left him looking dazed and confused. In the postgame, and through the three games that followed. If these players weren't going to find their game, the Bruins weren't going to find themselves playing in the second round. This team was not deep enough offensively to escape this series without some sort of tangible production from either player in these elimination games.

Why is this important beyond the obvious? Well, you could make the case that Krug and DeBrusk were the B's most important players in last year's Game 7 win over the Maple Leafs, with Krug scoring the game-tying goal off a four-on-four faceoff win while DeBrusk exploded for two goals (including the game-winner).

And now it's sparked hope that they've all woken out of their slumber.

Here are some other random thoughts and notes from a 4-2 win in Toronto...

John Tavares, though a thorn in B's side, has been held in check through six games

While Auston Matthews has gone off (five goals on 21 shots over his last four games), the Leafs' $11 million man has been strangely quiet. In fact, through six games this series, John Tavares has recorded just one goal (an empty-netter) and has been downright frustrated by Tuukka Rask, who has turned aside all 16 shots thrown on net by No. 91.

That continued on Sunday, too, as Rask turned away two great looks from Tavares on a partial breakaway in the middle frame.

Now, some of this may have to do with the fact that Mike Babcock has utilized him as a Bergeron stopper throughout much of this series, but it's clear that the Bruins are doing their job when it comes to minimizing Pajama John's impact on this one.

Sean Kuraly, John Moore look much better (read as: healthier) in victory

The Bruins actually had a fourth line on Sunday. It wan't the result of a massive structural change on the part of the B's, but rather Sean Kuraly looking like... well... Sean Kuraly. Out of action for a month with a fracture in his hand, Kuraly's return to the lineup in last Friday's Game 5 loss was quiet, and hardly featured the pop that Kuraly brings to each and every shift.

But the legs were moving on Sunday, and again, the B's had four lines they could trust as a direct result. In 12:24 of five-on-five action with Kuraly on the ice, the Bruins controlled possession at 70.6 percent, and outshot Toronto 6-1. With Kuraly being Kuraly, Mike Babcock was forced to play his fourth line more than he would have liked, and Kuraly even got some head-to-head action against Matthews and didn't look completely lost. (He's an incredibly important piece to their puzzle.)

John Moore also had a tremendous game for the Bruins, with no signs of the rust that haunted his previous showings in this postseason, and the Bruins outshot Toronto 11-3 in the 10:31 of five-on-five time on ice that Moore logged.

These games are killing us all

If you enjoyed Sunday's game, you're a liar. It was a two and a half hour long stomachache.

I know this is the kind of riveting analysis you pay for (the website's free, sucker), but here's the recap of actions and emotions I felt over this Game 6: At first, I went for a walk. Then I sank into a couch. Then I sank into a different seat. I pulled my hat over my face. I threw it at one point, actually. I thought I died on, like, four separate occasions.

In other, you're a sick person if you enjoy playoff hockey.

But I know we can't wait to do it all again on Tuesday night.

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. He has also been a voting member of the Boston Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association since 2013. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.