TORONTO — Pomp and circumstance will be on display at the Air Canada Centre tonight as the Maple Leafs celebrate their centennial season with a pregame ceremony. The Bruins are hoping to interrupt those festivities in their quest to start the 2016-17 campaign at 2-0.
Like their 6-3 win on opening night in Columbus where they overcame two-goal deficits twice, the Bruins will go at it without Patrice Bergeron, who is still day-to-day nursing a lower body injury. Again, that will be a tall task for the Black and Gold against phenom Auston Matthews — fresh off his four-goal performance in Ottawa — and the rest of the young Leafs.
Without Bergeron, the Bruins first line of David Pastrnak, David Backes and Brad Marchand each scored twice during Thursday’s victory. They’ll need a complete effort tonight, however, and the B’s young defense featuring the likes of Brandon Carlo and Rob O’Gara will need to minimize their mistakes — something that haunted them during the entire first and early second period against the Blue Jackets.
Gametime: 7:00 p.m.
TV/Radio: NESN, NBCSN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins 1-0-0 (2 points), Maple Leafs 0-0-1 (1 point)
Location: Air Canada Centre
Bruins projected lines
Brad Marchand-David Backes-David Pastrnak
Ryan Spooner-David Krejci-Danton Heinen
Matt Beleskey-Austin Czarnik-Jimmy Hayes
Dominic Moore-Riley Nash-Noel Acciari
Zdeno Chara-Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug-Rob O’Gara
John-Michael Liles-Colin Miller
Maple Leafs projected lines
William Nylander-Auston Matthews-Zach Hyman
James van Riemsdyk-Tyler Bozak-Mitchell Marner
Milan Michalek-Nazem Kadri-Leo Komarov
Matt Martin-Peter Holland-Connor Brown
Morgan Reilly-Martin Marincin
Jake Gardiner-Connor Carrick
Matt Hunwick-Nikita Zaitsev
– Two of the hottest players over the last month will likely matchup against each other. Fresh off their World Cup performances, Marchand and Matthews are carrying their momentum over into their first game of the NHL’s regular season. The top respective defensive pairings of Chara-Carlo and Reilly-Marincin will have their hands full for sure.
– Of course, most of the hype is surrounding Matthews, the No. 1 overall pick in this June’s draft. Even NBCSN is getting in on the hype after announcing on Friday that it will televise Saturday’s game to a national audience. Fans statewide will get a first look at Matthews as he makes his Leafs debut in front of the Air Canada Centre crowd.
– With the pregame festivities, puck drop is scheduled for 7:18 p.m. Following the Bruins’ optional morning skate Marchand admitted that even with the delay, there’s little that will go into adjustments for game preparation. “Just have to warm up initially,” Marchand admitted. “There will be a little more time [before the game starts], but, you know it’s not really that bad. We’re all professional athletes, we all know how to adjust to that. We’re not really concerned about it.”
– Given his maintenance day on Friday, one might figure that Tuukka Rask will be the backup to Anton Khudobin on the Bruins’ second game of the season. While he wasn’t particularly sharp against the Blue Jackets early on, especially after allowing a soft goal on Columbus’ first stop. Assuming this is the case, this will be Khudobin’s first start in a Bruins uniform since April 23, 2013, in Philadelphia. Given Rask’s career success against the team who drafted him, though (15-3-2, 1.87 goals against average, .935 save percentage vs. Leafs), one has to wonder if this would be a good decision from Claude Julien. We’ll see come puck drop.