Bruins Comment on Leafs’ Heads, Coach Tries to Difuse Situation

The Boston Bruins are trying to buck a decades-long trend and so far it’s working for them in their first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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Boston leads Toronto 2-1 after the Bruins regained home-ice advantage by beating the Maple Leafs on the road in Game 3 on April 24.

After starting goalie Jeremy Swayman in Game 1 and going with Linus Ullmark in the Game 2 loss, the Bruins got back to placing Swayman on net for Game 3 and the latter earned his second consecutive victory this postseason.

Swayman stopped 28 shots on Wednesday in Boston’s 4-2 win over Toronto after saving 35 in the Game 1 victory by 5-1.

With those two victories starting on net, Swayman improved his record against the Leafs to a perfect 6-0-0 through the last two seasons against Toronto, including regular- and post-season matchups.

“Maybe [Swayman] is in their head a little bit,” Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery told reporters on April 25.

Bruins Think Swayman Is Messing With Toronto’s Head

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Boston had a day off on Thursday as they get ready to face Toronto for a fourth time, the second on the road, on Saturday. Coach Montgomery addressed the media, however, and he played some mind games with his words touching on Swayman’s performances and how they are impacting Toronto’s mindset.

“When (Max) Domi goes off the bench and bumps him on purpose,” said Montgomery, “makes me think that maybe he’s in their head a little bit.”

Montgomery was referencing Domi’s hit on Swayman during a stoppage of play in which they crossed paths. Domi skated near Swayman and made contact with the goalie’s shoulder, making him fall to the ice.

Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo discussed the action after the game and he sounded a bit displeased by how the Leafs reacted to Swayman’s dominance on the crease, a frustration embodied by Domi’s hit.

“Those are things that, in the game, you don’t really want to allow to happen,” Carlo told reporters on April 25. “You could see it right away on the bench from [Pat] Maroon.”

“I didn’t see it. But he was making sure everybody had known that Domi had done that. From there, you just try and get your licks back throughout the game as opportunity arises in different scenarios.”

From the other side of the rink, Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe tried to remove any potential question mark from their players’ heads as soon as he was asked about his thoughts on Montgomery’s comments.

“I sense zero frustration,” Keefe told reporters on April 25. “I think it’s playoff hockey and things are happening all over the ice.

“With that logic, you would say every time they bump into one of our guys, maybe we’re in their heads. I don’t think that has anything to do with anything.”

Whether or not Keefe’s words have diffused the potential situation is yet to be seen on the ice.

Montgomery Praises Swayman, Won’t Commit to Him Over Ullmark

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Bruins coach Montgomery only had good words about his goalie of choice for Game 1 and Game 3, although the gaffer wouldn’t commit to him starting on net come Game 4.

“We’re going to have more rest, but the rotation’s been so good for us,” Montgomery said. “So, you know, it’s a hard decision.”

The last time Swayman started back-to-back games, in February 19 and 21 according to Hockey Goalies, he earned wins against Dallas first (4-3 SO victory) and Edmonton (6-5 OT win) in the second leg. He allowed, however, 8 goals in just those two games alone, something that is not quite optimal.

The difference between then and now, as Montgomery pointed out himself, is the extra day of rest Boston has between Game 3 and Game 4 compared to those two games in three days back from February.

In any case, Montgomery did and will not tip his hand ahead of time, leaving his final choice for a game-time decision without unveiling it beforehand.

The Bruins lead the Leafs 2-1 in their first-round series with Game 4 scheduled for Saturday, April 27, before both teams return to the United States to play Game 5 at TD Garden on Tuesday.

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