Claude Julien explains how the Leafs can beat the Bruins in Round 1

Marvin Azrak
April 19, 2024  (6:58 PM)

Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien
Photo credit: WCVB

The Boston Bruins are heading into the playoffs without their seasoned veterans, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, holding down the fort in the middle. It's a noticeable gap in their lineup, especially when you're up against the likes of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and John Tavares. Claude Julien, former Bruins coach and Stanley Cup champ, chimed in on what he thinks Toronto needs to do to come out on top against the B's.

Julien's take is pretty straightforward. He acknowledged Boston's solid defense and goaltending but sees a potential hole in their armor when it comes to secondary scoring. He says the Leafs, have a chance to capitalize on this by getting gritty, getting to those tough spots, and making things happen in front of the net.
We all know, it's pretty obvious to everybody, the Bruins have great goaltending and have two that are really good. Their backend is really strong and so is their defensive game. Their defensive structure is very strong so where I think the Leafs have an advantage is definitely on the offensive side of things where they can score a lot more. I think the Bruins maybe lack a little bit of depth in the scoring area so can the Leafs take advantage of trying to get to those dirty areas. Are they going to get to that net front? That means they are going to have to take some punishment, it's not going to be easy, but if they play on the outside, they don't have a chance of winning this series. It's about wanting to get your nose dirty - blocking shots, taking a hit to make a play. There's a team there that doesn't give much so you're going to have to create and make those things happen. A lot of it will not just be by skill alone, it will be by commitment and dedication and wanting to go to those areas.
Julien's analysis aligns with the Leafs' strategy of bulking up their roster with players like Max Domi and Tyler Bertuzzi, who excel in those gritty areas. Bertuzzi's playoff performance last year, notching five goals and ten points in just seven games, shows what they're banking on. Add in the physicality of players like Ryan Reaves and the stellar defense of Ilya Lyubushkin and Joel Edmundson, and you've got a recipe for creating more opportunities where it counts.
Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe is already deep into pre-scouting, which he started during the but whether they can translate those plans into action on the ice remains to be seen. It's been a stumbling block for the Leafs in the past, and overcoming it will be crucial as they gear up for the playoffs.