Game Day Preview: Bruins vs. Maple Leafs
The Boston Bruins took a step forward Monday night taking it to the Detroit Red Wings in a 5-2 victory. The Black and Gold scored three first period goals and never looked back gaining two points without the services of Patrice Bergeron and Milan Lucic.
On Boston.com: No Bergeron, No Lucic, No Problem
Tuukka Rask bounced back from his relief appearance where he allowed three goals on 15 shots by stopping 28 of 30 shots thrown on him by the Red Wings. Claude Julien’s wish of his team playing with some edge was answered as the commitment, urgency and hunger was evident.
Now, the Maple Leafs will come to town on New Year’s Eve for a very important game. The B’s will look to get into a tie with the Leafs for a playoff spot.
The two teams have split the season series thus far. The Bruins winning 4-1 behind a three-point performance by Dougie Hamilton the first time around while the Leafs steamrolled the Black and Gold 6-1 led by Phil Kessel’s two goals a little over a month ago.
In injury news for the Black and Gold, Bergeron and Lucic did practice yesterday, but still have not been cleared to play. They will most likely be a game time decision.
Here is your complete Bruins-Maple Leafs Preview:
Gametime: 7:00 PM
Records: Bruins 19-15-3 (41 points)/ Maple Leafs 20-14-3 (43 points)
TV/Radio: NESN, 98.5 The Sports Hub
Location: TD Garden
Bruins’ projected lines:
Brad Marchand-David Krejci-Reilly Smith
Chris Kelly-Carl Soderberg-Loui Eriksson
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell- Jordan Caron
Matt Lindblad-Craig Cunningham-Seth Griffith
Zdeno Chara-Dougie Hamilton
Dennis Seidenberg-Matt Bartkowski
Torey Krug-Kevan Miller
Maple Leafs’ projected lines:
Joffrey Lupul-Tyler Bozak-Phil Kessel
James van Riemsdyk-Nazem Kadri-Mike Santorelli
David Booth-Peter Holland-David Clarkson
Carter Ashton-Trevor Smith-Daniel Winnik
Dion Phaneuf-Cody Franson
Jake Gardiner-Roman Polak
Morgan Rielly-Korbinian Holzer
Who to watch for Bruins: Tuukka Rask
The last time Rask was between the pipes for the B’s against the Maple Leafs was November 12th and it did not go according to planned. The reigning Vezina Trophy winner was relieved of his duties during the game after allowing four goals on 16 shots as the Black and Gold got embarrassed.
It was very uncharacteristic for the 27 year-old net-minder who has a lot of success against their division rival. In his career versus the Maple Leafs, Rask owns a 10-3-0 record with a 1.85 goals against average to go along with a .937 save percentage including one shutout.
Rask is unbeaten in his last three starts beating the Sabres, Predators and Red Wings all at home. His record now stands at 15-10-3 with a 2.57 goals against average and a .911 save percentage.
If the Black and Gold want to get back into a tie with the Maple Leafs for a playoff spot, Rask will need to play much differently than last time he did in Toronto.
Who to watch for Maple Leafs: Tyler Bozak
Tyler Bozak has been a thorn in the Bruins’ side this season. In two meetings, the 28 year-old center has one goal, three assists, and a plus-1 rating while firing off five shots on net. He is the leading point scorer between both teams in the season series.
Bozak is on pace to shatter his career highs in goals, assists and points in his sixth season with the Maple Leafs. In 37 games so far, Bozak has 13 goals and 17 assists. His career highs are 19 goals and 30 assists (in only 58 games) so, he is well on his way to his best season as a professional. The centerman also ranks seventh in the NHL in power-play goals with seven and fourth in the league with two short-handed goals.
In 23 career games against the Black and Gold, Bozak has five goals and seven assists. He has also contributed with 37 hits, 15 blocked shots and 33 shots on net.
Game Day Edge: Take another step forward
If there was ever a time to play like they did against the Red Wings, it’s tonight against the Maple Leafs. The Bruins will be on home ice in front of a sold out crowd with a chance to get back in the playoff picture. What else do you need?
Regardless of Bergeron and Lucic’s status tonight, the team knows they can win without them. The effort on Monday night was one of the Black and Gold’s best performances of the season after getting smoked out in Columbus. The B’s need to build off the win and take another step forward instead of another step back.
The blueprint is out for the B’s on how to win consistently. They need to score early and often, play fast and physical and get bodies in front of the net. That was evident against the Red Wings and it needs to continue from here on out if the Black and Gold want to be playing hockey into May and June.