Hockey World Blog

NHL Rivalries: Boston Bruins Vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

There is no NHL rivalry quite as renowned as that between the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs: two unapologetic teams that don’t shy away from confrontation.

While it may not be as intense as the Montreal-Boston feud, it remains one of the longest-standing and most popular rivalries in the NHL and deserves recognition.

It’s a cliche that rivalries are born in the playoffs, but in the case of the Bruins and Maple Leafs, it is true! They’ve since met 13 times in the playoffs, with the Leafs having won 8 out of the matchups.

Let’s dive in!

A Brief Overview

Both teams compete in the Atlantic Division. With current NHL scheduling, they typically meet on four different occasions every season. Both teams are part of the Original Six teams.

If you want to make predictions about both teams before they next meet in 2022, make sure to check out NHL odds.

Team Rivalry History

The 1920s

The first game between the Toronto Maple Leafs (then the Toronto St. Patricks) and the Boston Bruins was played during Boston’s inaugural 1924 season. In this match-up played at Mutual Street Arena, the Maple Leafs achieved an impressive 5–3 victory against Boston. This was only the team’s second game.

The Bruins played their first-ever Stanley Cup playoff series against the Toronto Maple Leafs after the 1932–33 NHL season. The Maple Leafs were victorious in the series, winning 3–2.

In the 1930s

A Career-Ending Injury

The Bruins and Leafs faced off in 1933. During this December game, the Bruins’ Eddie Shore hit Maple Leafs’ Ace Bailey from behind, forcing him directly to the ice. As a result, Bailey sustained a career-ending fractured skull injury. This incident marked another key reason why the rivalry was so strong between both teams.

The 1960s, 70s, and 80s

The 1960s

In January 1964, the Maple Leafs — the defending Stanley Cup champion — lost to the last-place Bruins by a margin of 11–0 margin. As of today, this remains the largest and most lopsided win of the entire rivalry.

Toronto’s luck changed in 1966 with the arrival of renowned Boston defenseman Bobby Orr. His addition to the team helped the Bruins to gain momentum against Toronto, completely altering the course of the rivalry and in Boston’s favor.

The rivalry turned relatively quiet until April of 1969 when the hatred returned tenfold. Toronto’s Pat Quinn elbowed Bruins’ Orr, forcing him flat to the ice.

This sparked a bench-clearing and brutal brawl that saw Boston’s fans involved, and also saw Toronto’s Forbes Kennedy set many new records for the most penalties achieved in a single game!

The 1969 playoffs saw the Bruins achieve a four-game sweep.

The 1970s

On February 7, 1976, at Maple Leaf Gardens, the Maple Leafs’ Darryl Sittler set a new NHL record by tallying 10 points (4 assists and 6 goals). This still stands today. His points were all scored against the Bruins’ rookie goalie Dave Reece in an 11–4 victory for Toronto.

The 1980s

In December 1989, Toronto staged its biggest comeback for a championship win in all of the team’s history. Toronto was down 6–1 to the Bruins and came back with six goals to defeat the Bruins in overtime (7–6).

The 2000s and 2010s

The rivalry has gotten significantly more intense since 2009 when Boston traded its leading goal scorer Phil Kessel to the Maple Leafs. Boston capitalized on the return by selecting Dougie Hamilton and Tyler Seguin who went on to become All-Stars.

2013

In the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the two teams faced off again. Boston obtained a 3-1 series lead against the then-struggling Toronto Maple Leafs.

Miraculously, the Maple Leafs pulled through and tied the entire series at three games apiece.

Toronto famously stunned the crowd during Game 7 of the 2013 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. The Leafs were leading 4-1 with slightly over half a period left to play. Fans of both teams know what comes next.

Boston managed to cut Toronto’s lead, evening out the score with just 50 seconds remaining. This sent the game into overtime.

Soon into sudden death, Patrice Bergeron scored yet again and sent the final blow to Toronto. This win saw Boston sail through to the following round.

2018-19

In 2018, the Bruins made an amazing comeback in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Leafs with only a single-goal deficit. The Boston Bruins again defeated the Maple Leafs in game 7 during the 2019 season playoffs.

What’s Next?

Both teams have since taken steps to completely rebrand their identity, to come back fighting stronger than before.

The Maple Leafs seem to have dominated the Bruins over the last few years, winning their last game in April 2022. With the new season approaching, and a whole new roster of talented players raring to go, both teams stand a chance of winning and extending the rivalry for another few decades.

In summary, this rivalry doesn’t look set to disappear any time soon which is great news for the fans and players alike who enjoy a bit of competition.

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