With four games in six nights against playoff caliber competition, this week will unquestionably determine whether or not the Bruins will be that much closer to a playoff spot or be back on the outside looking in.
First things first, the young and pesky Toronto Maple Leafs – a team that has won each of the first three meetings against the Bruins in 2016-17.
Coming off arguably their roughest performance of the Bruce Cassidy era in Edmonton on Thursday night, the Bruins will look to bounce back after their 7-4 setback against the Oilers. Fortunately for the well-rested Bruins, they have bounced back to win the next game in Cassidy’s first three losses and have not lost two in a row since Claude Julien’s last game at the helm, which was a 6-5 loss to this same Leafs squad at TD Garden.
What’s at stake for the Black and Gold tonight? With a win in regulation, the Bruins would be five points clear of the Maple Leafs for third place in the Atlantic Division – four points clear with an overtime or shootout win. A regulation or overtime win would put the Black and Gold two points behind the Senators, who currently hold the second spot in the Atlantic.
“There are lots of reasons to be ready for tonight’s game,” Patrice Bergeron told the press at Air Canada Centre after taking Sunday’s practice off for maintenance. “You know, we look at the standings, the season series against them and hopefully, you know, we can come out with a big game with all of us [contributing]. You know you need everyone [to come through] in order to get the results, and that’s what we need again tonight.”
After tonight, the Bruins will play eight of their final 10 regular season games at TD Garden.
Gametime: 7:30 pm
TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins 38-27-6 (82 points), Maple Leafs 32-23-15 (79 points)
Location: Air Canada Centre
Bruins projected lines
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Jimmy Hayes
Matt Beleskey-David Krejci-David Pastrnak
Frank Vatrano-Ryan Spooner-Drew Stafford
Riley Nash-Dominic Moore-Noel Acciari
Zdeno Chara-Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid
Colin Miller-Kevan Miller
Maple Leafs projected lines
Zach Hyman-Auston Matthews-William Nylander
Leo Komarov-Nazem Kadri-Connor Brown
James van Riemsdyk-Tyler Bozak-Mitch Marner
Matt Martin-Brian Boyle-Nikita Soshnikov
Jake Gardiner-Connor Carrick
Morgan Reilly-Nikita Zaitsev
Matt Hunwick-Roman Polak
– Fresh off first star of the week honors, Brad Marchand hopes to pick up right where he left off. The Hart Trophy candidate is coming off a nine-point effort (five goals, four assists) during the Bruins’ three-game swing through Western Canada and has already set career highs in points (79), power play points (21), power play goals (8) and game-winning goals (7). He is one goal shy of surpassing last year’s career high goal mark of 37 and one point shy of his first 80-point season.
– Marchand and Bergeron, however, may be without a fellow linemate for tonight’s matchup. David Backes stayed at the team hotel during the morning skate due to illness and is a game-time decision. Jimmy Hayes took Backes’ spot on the first line during the morning skate.
– Finally, a happy birthday to the man who changed the sport of hockey!
Happy birthday to the man, the myth, the legend. No. 4, Bobby Orr! pic.twitter.com/3E3IZ14Oir
— Bruins Daily (@BruinsDaily) March 20, 2017