Toronto Maple Leafs Game Preview: Saturday Night Tea Party with the Boston Bruins
We have all waited patiently and now it is time to drop the puck on a new season for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Here at the Tip of the Tower we strive to give you as much content on your Toronto sports teams as humanly possible. This series will preview every single Toronto Maple Leafs game and what you should know for the game that night.
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Apr 3, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri (43) scores the game winning goal on Boston Bruins goaltender Chad Johnson (30) as defenseman Kevan Miller (86) defends at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto defeated Boston 4-3 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Boston has gone 15-5-1 against the Leafs, outscoring Toronto 80-46 since the start of the 2011-12 season. The Bruins went 2-1-1 in last season’s series after the Leafs won the final two meetings.
Leafs Injury Report
David Booth out with Broken Foot
Bruins Injury Report
Zdeno Chara out with a knee injury
Kevan Miller out with a shoulder injury
Projected Line Combinations(Bruins)
Oct 21, 2014; Uniondale, NY, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs right wing David Clarkson (71) celebrates his goal with Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner (51) and Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Richard Panik (18) and Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Stephane Robidas (12) in front of New York Islanders left wing Cory Conacher (89) during the second period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Not much has changed for the Leafs since their game against the Ottawa Senators was postponed, because of the tragic events in Ottawa.
It’s a different story for the Bruins, mainly on defence. Zdeno Chara left the Bruins game on Thursday against the New York Islanders because of a knee injury. It turns out that the injury will sideline the Bruins captain for 4-6 weeks, which is a major blow to the team. Luckily for them it happened now and not during a tough stretch later in the season.
Dec 8, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara (33) keeps the puck away from Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Phil Kessel (81) at Air Canada Centre. The Bruins beat the Maple Leafs 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
The Bruins are not a team that relies solely on one player, but Chara takes care of the hard matchups against the opponents star players. This is a major advantage for a player like Phil Kessel. Randy Carlyle always had to find a way to get Kessel onto the ice without Chara there, either by double shifting him or putting him on when Chara gets off the ice. However, Kessel has found ways to get some production with Chara on the ice, but with him out of the lineup tonight, life will be much simpler for Kessel.
March 7, 2013; Boston, MA USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton (27) skates with the puck while being pursued by Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Clarke MacArthur (16) during the second period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
That means that someone will have to step up and take on the tough minutes against the Leafs top line. Johnny Boychuk was traded to the Islanders, so players like Dougie Hamilton and Dennis Seidenberg will have to try and defend the Leafs top players.
For the Leafs, the Bruins defence should not be the major concern; they need to worry about the man between the pipes, Tuukka Rask. The ongoing narrative about the Leafs trading him to the Bruins only fuels Rask to play at his best when he goes up against them.
May 13, 2013; Boston, MA USA; Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40) makes a glove save in front of Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Joffrey Lupul (19) during the second period in game seven of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Toronto Maple Leafs
Kessel career vs Boston: 26 GP- 3 goals- 11 assists- 14 PTS
Joffrey Lupul career vs Boston: 23 GP- 6 goals- 12 assists- 18 PTS
Nazem Kadri career vs Boston: 12 GP- 4 goals- 4 assists- 8 PTS
Jake Gardiner career vs Boston: 12 GP- 1 goal- 6 assists- 7 PTS
**Jonathan Bernier career vs Boston: 4 GP- 1 Win- 2 Losses (One undecided because Reimer came in relief after Bernier got injured) 4.27 GAA- .882 sv%
**James Reimer career vs Boston: 11 GP- 5 Wins- 5 Losses- 1 OTL- 2.72 GAA- .919 sv%
**Depending on which goalie gets the start.
Jan 14, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs left wing James van Riemsdyk (21) gets up ended by Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (37) during the third period at TD Banknorth Garden. Toronto Maple Leafs won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Patrice Bergeron career vs Toronto: 48 GP- 16 goals- 27 assists- 43 PTS
David Krejci career vs Toronto: 38 GP- 11 goals- 25 assists- 36 PTS
Milan Lucic career vs Toronto: 36 GP- 7 goals- 20 assists- 27 PTS
Dougie Hamilton career vs Toronto: 7 GP- 0 goals- 1 assist- 1 PTS
Torey Krug career vs Toronto: 4 GP- 1 goal- 1 assist- 2 PTS
Tuukka Rask career vs Toronto: 11 GP- 9 Wins- 2 Losses- 1.64 GAA- .943 sv %
Keys to Victory for Toronto
Apr 3, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk (21) and Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara (33) battle for position at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto defeated Boston 4-3 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
-The powerplay has to get better for the Leafs. They went 0/4 against the Islanders, who do not have a great penalty kill unit ,and currently rank 16th in the NHL at 17.9%. The Leafs will have to use their speed to draw penalties to try to get some scoring chances from their defencemen and hope their forwards can cash in on some chances in front of the net.
– Take advantage of not having to go up against Chara. The Leafs have not played since Tuesday so try and get the top players more ice time. Force the Bruins to be more physical and wear them down. Chara’s beast-like frame allowed him to wear down forwards and force them to the outside when they try to cut to the net. The Leafs can try and take the play to the net and get some decent chances on Rask.
Oct 11, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) falls into the net as he is upended as Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier (45) guards the net at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
-The Bruins have not been hot out of the gate (neither have the Leafs), it is important for the Leafs to avoid having another top Eastern Conference team blow past them in the first two periods. Against the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Detroit Red Wings, the Leafs were guilty of taking bad penalties and letting their opponent establish decent time in their own end. Toronto needs to avoid being hammered in their own end. They need to be able to breakout of their own zone and spread out the play in the neutral and offensive zones. The Bruins will be aggressive and hopefully the Leafs can catch them being too aggressive.
May 13, 2013; Boston, MA USA; Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Phil Kessel (81) scores a goal during the third period in game seven of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
– Kessel will have to be great again if the Leafs want to come out on top. Toronto is 3-0 when the winger gets a point, which puts a lot of pressure on him to produce. Kadri has been too quiet so far – hopefully he can pick up the slack if Kessel has an off night. However with Chara out Kessel, has to take advantage.
It will be a tough matchup for the Leafs and if Rask is playing ,then it becomes really difficult. However the Bruins are not playing their best hockey right now. They lost to the Islanders who the Leafs beat and they are having a tough time adjusting to the loss of key players like Boychuk, Chara, and Jarome Iginla. The Leafs chances to win are better with Chara out but it is not a guaranteed win. Hopefully they can try to get the victory but it will up to how the goaltending and defence holds up against the Big Bad Bruins.