Coyle Matthews Samsonov

The Boston Bruins will face the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Eastern Conference First Round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The best-of-7 series was decided Tuesday, when the Maple Leafs were defeated 5-2 at the Florida Panthers and the Bruins lost 3-1 to the Ottawa Senators. Those results gave Florida the Atlantic Division title by one point, relegating Boston to second place.

The Bruins (47-20-15) will have home-ice advantage against the Maple Leafs (46-25-10), who finished third in the division. Toronto has one game remaining, at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday.

The postseason begins Saturday.

Boston and Toronto have faced each other 16 times in the playoffs, with each winning eight times. Their most recent meeting was in the 2019 Eastern Conference First Round, when the Bruins won in seven games and went on to the Stanley Cup Final, where they lost to the St. Louis Blues in seven games.

Boston swept the four-game regular-season series against Toronto: 3-2 in a shootout Nov. 2, 4-3 in overtime on Dec. 2, 4-1 on March 4 and 4-1 again March 7.

Who will win this series? That's the question before staff writer Amalie Benjamin and senior writer Dan Rosen in this playoff edition of State Your Case.

Benjamin: This is easy. It's going to be the Bruins. Boston won all four matchups this season, and for some reason -- and I'm going to go with the Bruins' superior defense and goaltending -- this matchup just continues to favor Boston. And that's not even going into the history of it all, with the Bruins having won each of the past six playoff series against the Maple Leafs, dating to the 1969 NHL Quarterfinals, and including that all-time Game 7 in the 2013 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, when the Bruins rallied from a 4-1 third-period deficit to win 5-4 in overtime. I'm sure someday that run of dominance will end, but I don't think it will this season. Toronto is a dynamic offensive team that would be favored in a lot of first-round series. But not this one.

Rosen: This is the best first-round matchup the Maple Leafs could have asked for. They were 60 minutes from facing the Panthers, which would have ended badly for them. This series will end well for them because for the first time in the Auston Matthews-Mitch Marner-John Tavares-William Nylander era, the team from north of the border has the better center depth. That will matter. The Bruins will not be able to match up over the course of a seven-game series, and this one will go seven games, with the likes of Matthews and Tavares. With due respect to Charlie Coyle and Pavel Zacha, Boston's top two centers, this matchup is not close, especially when adding Marner and Nylander to the mix. The Bruins won a bunch of one-offs against the Maple Leafs during the regular season, but I don't see them being able to replicate that in a long playoff series, when adjustments are made and warts are exposed. No Patrice Bergeron means things are going to be different in this edition of the Toronto-Boston playoff rivalry.

Benjamin: I'll give you center depth. I'll give you offensive firepower. I'll even stipulate that Bergeron is not walking through that door. But where the Bruins have the definite edge over the Maple Leafs is in goal, and that's going to matter a whole lot. Not only can the Bruins throw Linus Ullmark, the reigning Vezina Trophy-winning goalie, at the Maple Leafs, but they can throw a second goalie,  Jeremy Swayman, at them who is just as good. None of the Toronto goalies can match up, and there's a good chance Ullmark and Swayman each will be utilized. Swayman finished the season 25-10-8 with a 2.53 goals-against average, .916 save percentage and three shutouts, including 3-0-0 with a 1.30 GAA and .959 save percentage in three starts against Toronto. Ullmark, who was especially good at the end of the season, after the 2024 NHL Trade Deadline on March 8, finished 22-10-7 with a 2.57 GAA, .915 save percentage and two shutouts. I'd take my chances with either of these goalies. Both? That's game, set, match.

Rosen: Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. OK, you're right about Swayman and Ullmark being terrific, because they are, but the Bruins defend only one of the two nets, so only one of them can play at a time, and whoever that is might be looking over his shoulder wondering if the hook is coming. That's no way to play. Two goalies, heck, even three, are required to get through an 82-game season, but at some point you should identify who the No. 1 guy is going to be. Could one of them be the difference in this series? Yes. But going with two goalies could create a controversy; it might be small, but that benefits the Maple Leafs. And if Boston needs to use both goalies, it means Toronto got to the first guy. That's a good thing too. The Maple Leafs know who their goalie will be: Ilya Samsonov hasn't been a world beater this season, but he was 18-4-2 with a 2.69 GAA, .905 save percentage and two shutouts in 24 starts since Jan. 21. I love Toronto's chances if he can keep that GAA under 3.00 in this series. I think he will and I think the Maple Leafs will do just enough to sneak through in seven games.