Game Day Preview: Bruins vs. Maple Leafs
As each game becomes more important for the Boston Bruins, the stakes in Saturday’s game against the Maple Leafs are pretty high.
Although they come in losers of three straight, the Leafs, who have five games in hand on the B’s, should feel pretty good about themselves having beaten the Black and Gold in both meetings this season. That makes tonight’s contest even more vital for Tuukka Rask and company – fresh off Wednesday’s 5-3 loss against the Capitals that snapped their season-long three-game win streak – as they currently hold a three-point edge over the Leafs for third place in the Atlantic Division.
“It’s big, it’s very big,” said Rask, who rejoined the team at Saturday’s morning skate after taking a much-needed maintenance day on Friday. “Obviously, you realize the standings where they are and where we are. Obviously, you know, like a lot of other teams they have games in hand on us so we need to gain some ground, and for our own sake get us on a roll and get us on a point streak after a loss.”
Rask, along with Patrice Bergeron (lower body) are likely to play against the Leafs. Bergeron left Wednesday’s game against the Caps after taking a Matt Niskanen one-timer to the knee but was on the ice this morning after taking Friday off. Austin Czarnik, who centered the third line during line rushes, could replace Ryan Spooner assuming Bergeron is ready to go.
Against a young and speedy team that features the likes of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander, the Bruins are going to need an effort from all 20 men if they want to come away with their first win of the season against their Atlantic rivals on Hockey Night in Canada.
Gametime: 7:00 p.m.
TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins 26-22-6 (58 points), Maple Leafs 23-17-9 (55 points)
Location: TD Garden
Bruins projected lines
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak
Frank Vatrano-David Krejci-David Backes
Matt Beleskey-Austin Czarnik-Riley Nash
Tim Schaller-Dominic Moore-Jimmy Hayes
Zdeno Chara-Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid
Colin Miller-Kevan Miller
Maple Leafs projected lines
Zach Hyman-Auston Matthews-William Nylander
James van Riemsdyk-Nazem Kadri-Mitch Marner
Leo Komarov-Tyler Bozak-Connor Brown
Matt Martin-Ben Smith-Nikita Soshnikov
Morgan Reilly-Nikita Zaitsev
Jake Gardiner-Connor Carrick
Martin Marincin-Roman Polak
– The Bruins have had a difficult time defending against speedier teams like the Canadiens and Penguins to name a couple. The team that’s given them the most trouble are the Leafs as they’ve outscored the Black and Gold 8-2 in their two wins – both 4-1 outcomes. Countering that speed with a stout defense and a fluid transition game will be a key for the Black and Gold this evening.
“They’re a fast team. They’re on you quick and there’s not much time and space out there,” Torey Krug said about the Leafs. “Obviously they have a lot of young skill and talent in their lineup and they’re pretty deep as well. It’s definitely a good test for us tonight, and it’s an important game.”
– Scoring first is something that every team preaches. That philosophy should be a priority for the Black and Gold. Not only have they allowed the opening goal in the first two games against the Leafs, but they have also given up the first tally in each of their last three games. The B’s are 19-5-5 and the Leafs are 17-5-4 when scoring first.