The Toronto Maple Leafs will be looking to start their next five-game segment of the season with a win when they take on the Bruins in Boston on Saturday night. The Leafs will be looking to rebound from a tough 3-2 loss Wednesday against the Wild in which Toronto out shot Minnesota 37-20.
The Leafs will be taking on the Bruins for the second time this season – the first coming back on October 15 when Toronto beat Boston by a 4-1 score. The game was also a special night for Leafs rookie Mitch Marner who potted his first career NHL goal – a goal that electrified the home crowd.
The two teams currently sit seven points apart with the Leafs on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. Toronto does have three games in hand and this game could go a long way to helping their cause if they can pick up the two points.
One player in particular will be standing in the way of a Maple Leafs’ win. Bruins’ goaltender Tuukka Rask has been one of the most consistent pieces of Boston’s lineup so far this season. The 29-year-old has appeared in 20 games so far this season for the Bruins with a 14-4-2 record.
He’ll look to shut down a high-powered, young offence that seems to be able to break out every few games. The Leafs, however, will be looking to stop a three-game slide that includes losses to Calgary, Vancouver and Minnesota.
While some of the bigger names on the Leafs roster haven’t scored in a while, the hype of an important divisional game could get things flowing for players like Marner, Auston Matthews and James van Riemsdyk.
Toronto Maple Leafs at Boston Bruins
TD Garden – 7:00 p.m. EST
Broadcast channels – CBC and NESN
2016-17 Season Series: October 15 – Maple Leafs 4 – Bruins 1
Toronto Maple Leafs – 10-10-5 – 25 Points
Road Record: 2-6-5
Hot Players: Tyler Bozak, Auston Matthews, Nazem Kadri
Key Injuries: Joffrey Lupul, Josh Leivo
Leo Komarov-Nazem Kadri-William Nylander
James van Riemsdyk-Tyler Bozak-Mitch Marner
Zach Hyman-Auston Matthews-Connor Brown
Matt Martin-Ben Smith-Nikita Soshnikov
Morgan Rielly-Nikita Zaitsev
Jake Gardiner-Martin Marincin
Matt Hunwick-Roman Polak
Extra: Connor Carrick
Boston Bruins – 15-11-2 – 32 Points
Home Record: 7-6-0
Hot Players: David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Tuukka Rask
Key Injuries: Matt Beleskey, John-Michael Liles and Frank Vatrano
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak
Danton Heinen-David Krejci-David Backes
Ryan Spooner-Riley Nash-Austin Czarnik
Tim Schaller-Dominic Moore-Noel Acciari
Zdeno Chara-Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid
Kevan Miller-Colin Miller
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]1)[/miptheme_dropcap]The Leafs and Bruins have played each other 663 times over their storied histories. While the Leafs have outscored Boston over that span (1,966-1,959), the Leafs only hold a 270-285-98-10 all-time record against their divisional rival.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]2)[/miptheme_dropcap]The Leafs have played 51 games at TD Garden giving up over three goals per game and holding a 19-25-7 record over that span.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]3)[/miptheme_dropcap]The Leafs top two rookies are trending in different directions right now. Marner hasn’t scored in seven straight games, while Matthews has five goals and six points in his last six games.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]4)[/miptheme_dropcap]Rask is a staple in the Bruins’ lineup. He has 14 wins, which ranks him second among NHL goaltenders. He’s sixth in save percentage (.933) and third in goals against average (1.79).
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]5)[/miptheme_dropcap]Third-year forward, Pastrnak, is tied with Sidney Crosby for first in NHL goal scoring with 18 goals in 23 games. His 24 points has him tied for 18th in league scoring and first on the Bruins for points.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]6)[/miptheme_dropcap]The Leafs have outscored the Bruins on the season 74-68. However, the Bruins have only given up 66 goals this season (a plus-two goal differential) while the Leafs have given up 80 for a minus-six goal differential on the season. Only six teams in the Eastern Conference have more goals than the Leafs this season.
While the Leafs haven’t achieved the point totals coach Mike Babcock has hoped for so far this season, a division matchup against the surging Bruins could be a great start to their sixth five-game segment of the season. If the Leafs can find a way to get to Rask and shut down Pastrnak simultaneously, Toronto could find themselves heading home with a big two points. That being said, they’ll have to find a way to get a full 60 minute effort from the entire lineup.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.