Game Day Preview: Bruins vs. Maple Leafs
Let’s get this out of the way: the Bruins have a major goal scoring problem.
Yet, to think that the trend began with Patrice Bergeron’s rib injury is a little mind-boggling. The Bruins have scored 17 goals in Bergeron’s eight-game absence. They’ve score three goals only once in that span.
Young and promising talents like Ryan Donato and Danton Heinen haven’t taken another step forward since last season. Boston’s core players haven’t stepped up either with Brad Marchand, David Krejci and David Pastrnak all having problems creating offense even with the latter two finding the scoresheet during Thursday’s 3-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
And still, the Bruins can’t escape the dreaded injury bug as Jake DeBrusk (undisclosed) will miss the weekend slate beginning Saturday against the talented Toronto Maple Leafs.
Bruce Cassidy is rolling a top-heavy lineup with Krejci centering Marchand and Pastrnak. With three of their top seven goal-scorers out of the lineup — Bergeron, DeBrusk and Zdeno Chara — the Bruins need production out of this trio against the likes of Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Mitch Marner and William Nylander.
Gametime: 7 p.m.
TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins 14-10-4 (32 points), Maple Leafs 20-8-1 (41 points)
Location: TD Garden
Bruins projected lines
Brad Marchand-David Krejci-David Pastrnak
Danton Heinen-Colby Cave-David Backes
Ryan Donato-Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson-Joakim Nordstrom
Gemel Smith-Sean Kuraly-Chris Wagner
Torey Krug-Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk-Charlie McAvoy
John Moore-Steven Kampfer
Maple Leafs projected lines
Zach Hyman-John Tavares-Mitch Marner
Andreas Johnsson-Auston Matthews-Kasperi Kapanen
Connor Brown-Nazem Kadri-William Nylander
Tyler Ennis-Par Lindholm-Frederik Gauthier
Morgan Reilly-Ron Hainsey
Jake Gardiner-Nikita Zaitsev
Travis Dermott-Igor Ozhiganov
Bruins-Maple Leafs storylines
– The Bruins improved on their puck possession and offensive zone time against the Lightning, but their costly turnovers in the third period left Tuukka Rask out to dry. Jaroslav Halak makes the start Saturday night, with Rask likely getting the nod Sunday in Ottawa. But it goes without saying that the Bruins need to play a full 60-minute game with limited mistakes and several scoring chances. Having Charlie McAvoy back on D helps, yet Boston needs a near-perfect 200 foot game from all 20 guys in order to snap their three-game skid.
– Gemel Smith had little to time to acclimate himself to a new environment after the Bruins claimed him on waivers Thursday, but the former Dallas Star will make his Black and Gold debut Saturday night. The bottom-six forward will slot in on the fourth line with Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner. Smith provides the Bruins with a needed dose of energy and physicality while having a decent scoring touch for a fourth line winger (11 goals, 9 assists in 77 career games). This obviously doesn’t solve the goal-scoring woes, but the Bruins could also use more stability out of their third and fourth lines — especially with the opposition taking liberties against Boston’s marquee players like Marchand and Pastrnak.