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The Bruins get the Maple Leafs in the first round of the NHL Playoffs

BOSTON -- The NHL regular season is over for the Bruins and a first-round matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the NHL playoffs awaits. These two teams are very familiar with each other on the postseason stage, though the Leafs would probably like to forget about their most recent matchups.

These Original Six rivals have met 16 times on the playoff stage, with each team winning eight of those battles. But the Bruins have taken each of the last six meetings, three of which have come since the 2013 postseason.

Game 1 of the series is Saturday at 8 p.m. in Boston. The complete first round schedule has not been announced. 

The Bruins have had the Leafs' number in the playoffs

The Bruins won their first-round matchups with the Leafs in 2013, 2018, and 2019, taking each of those series in seven games. The B's made a furious comeback from a 4-1 deficit in Game 7 of the 2013 series to eventually win, 5-4, in overtime. The Bruins made it to the Cup Final that postseason, as they did the last time they beat the Leafs in the first round in 2019.

Boston captain Brad Marchand is the only player remaining on the Bruins roster from those three previous matchups.

The Bruins won all four regular-season matchups against the Leafs

The Bruins had plenty of success against the Leafs during the regular season this year, winning all four games while outscoring Toronto, 14-7. Boston won in a shootout, 3-2, on Nov. 2 and then won an overtime tilt, 4-3, in Toronto on Dec. 2.

Those games were a long time ago though, and either team will you that not a lot can be taken from those results. But when the two teams clashed in early March, the Bruins once again dominated the matchup.

Boston notched 4-1 wins over the Leafs in both March matchups, winning in Toronto on March 4 before doing the same in Boston four nights later. (There was a 2-1 OT loss to the Oilers sandwiched between.) Pavel Zacha scored twice in Toronto, while David Pastrnak and Morgan Geekie scored power play goals in Boston to lead the B's to those two victories. Jeremy Swayman was in net for those of those games, and stopped 60 shots over those two contests.

We'll see if Swayman is in net when the series begins Saturday at TD Garden. Swayman was a perfect 3-0 with a 1.30 GAA against the Leafs this season, while Linus Ullmark made 40 saves in his OT win over the Leafs in December.

Ullmark was in net for Tuesday night's regular-season finale when the Bruins lost 3-1 to the Senators (falling to second place in the division and setting up their first-round meeting with the Leafs in the process), so it seems like it will be Swayman's turn in net if Jim Montgomery continues to roll with his goaltending tandem.

Given all their past success over Toronto, the Bruins have to feel pretty good about themselves heading into the series. You could even argue that they didn't give it their all Tuesday night against the Senators to set up their matchup with the Leafs, instead of the opening-round meeting with the Tampa Bay Lightning that would have come with an Atlantic Division crown.

But the Leafs, who still have one game left in the regular season, will bring a formidable offensive punch to the series. Auston Matthews leads the league with 69 goals, and had had three goals and an assist against Boston this season. William Nylander's 98 points (40 goals, 58 assists) have him in the NHL's top 10 for the season. Mitch Marner (27 goals, 58 assists), John Tavares (27 goals, 36 assists), and defenseman Morgan Reilly (58 points) round out Toronto's top-end talent, while former Bruin Todd Bertuzzi (21 goals, 22 assists) is part of a talented supporting cast.

Boston will have a big edge in net with its two-headed monster of Swayman and Ullmark, while the Leafs will turn to either Ilya Samsonov or Joseph Woll. Samsonov saved 38 of the 40 shots that the Bruins sent his way in November, with the Leafs losing in a shootout, while Woll was 0-2-1 against Boston with a 3.97 GAA and a .865 save percentage. 

Pastrnak led the charge for Boston against the Leafs, tallying seven points (two goals, five assists) over four games, while Jake DeBrusk had six points (two goals, four assists) and Marchand racked up five (one goal, four assists). Zacha led the team with three goals against Toronto.

You'd think that at some point, the Leafs will break through against Boston, especially after winning their first first-round series in 20 years last postseason. But the Bruins have had Toronto's number for years, and will have an added level of motivation this postseason following their embarrassing first-round exit last year after winning the Presidents' Trophy.

If the last three playoff matchups between the Bruins and the Leafs are an indication of what's to come, we should be in for another exciting first-round matchup in this Original Six rivalry. 

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