Toronto Maple Leafs Game Preview: Rematch Against the Pesky Boston Bruins


Toronto Maple Leafs Game Preview: Rematch Against the Pesky 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.

More from Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs (8-5-2) vs Boston Bruins (10-6-0): 8:00 p.m. Rogers Sportsnet

The Boston Bruins won the last game against the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1.

Leafs Injury Report

Brandon Kozun is out with a high ankle sprain.

David Booth is out with a broken foot.

Joffrey Lupul is out with a broken hand.

Daniel Winnik is unlikely to play as a result of an upper body injury

Projected Line Combinations (Leafs)

Bruins Injury Report

Zdeno Chara out with a knee injury

Kevan Miller out with an upper-body injury

David Krecji out with an undisclosed injury

Line Combinations (Bruins)

Game Preview

Nov 8, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs center Leo Komarov (47) and teammates acknowledge the crowd after winning against the New York Rangers at Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs beat the Rangers 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Maple Leafs had a relatively easy schedule last week but only managed to come away with two out of four wins. In every game they trailed within the first five minutes of the game which has been a frustrating trend because now it seems like something we have to anticipate. The Leafs still found a way to get by their struggles posting a 5-1-1 record in their last seven games.

The Boston Bruins just completed a five-game home stand with five-straight wins and look to extend it to six-games, even though they have been missing the services of Zdeno Chara. The Bruins offence has picked up their play scoring 3.63 goals per game during their five-game winning streak. Tuukka Rask has been slowly returning to form allowing seven goals in his last four games.

Jan 14, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40) saves a shot by Toronto Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri (43) during the third period at TD Banknorth Garden. Toronto Maple Leafs won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Rask likes to play in Toronto, where he has a 6-1-1 record at the Air Canada Centre with a 1.57 GAA (goals against average) in his career against Toronto (more of that in the player previews).

Toronto has found a way to improve their offensive output scoring five goals in back-to-back games against the New York Rangers and the Ottawa Senators. However the defence still has work to do as Toronto ranks as one of the worst in the league in shots against per game with 33.3 per game.

The Leafs are still looking for Jonathan Bernier to emerge as the number one goalie in Toronto. Randy Carlyle might elect to go with James Reimer against the Bruins as he owns a 1.75 GAA in his last six games against the Bruins. Bernier allowed four goals in Toronto’s last game agaisnt the Bruins before getting pulled (though not entirely his fault).

Toronto Maple Leafs

May 13, 2013; Boston, MA USA; Boston Bruins center Tyler Seguin (19) forechecks Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner (51) during OT in game seven of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Phil Kessel career vs Boston: 27 GP- 3 goals- 11 assists – 14 PTS

James van Riemsdyk career vs Boston: 19 GP- 4 goals- 4 assists- 8 PTS

Nazem Kadri career vs Boston: 13 GP- 4 goals- 4 assists- 8 PTS

Jake Gardiner career vs Boston: 13 GP- 1 goal- 6 assists- 7 PTS

** James Reimer career vs Boston: 12 GP (10 started)- 5 wins- 5 losses- 1 OTL- 2.64 GAA- .921 sv%

** Jonathan Bernier career vs Boston: 5 GP- 1 win- 3 losses- 4.46 GAA- .876 sv%

**depending on who starts in goal

Boston Bruins

Oct 25, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton (27) cross-checks Toronto Maple Leafs left wing James van Riemsdyk (21) at Air Canada Centre. The Bruins beat the Maple Leafs 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Patrice Bergeron career vs Toronto: 49 GP- 16 goals- 29 assists- 45 PTS

Brad Marchand career vs Toronto: 21 GP- 5 goals- 11 assists- 16 PTS

Milan Lucic career vs Toronto: 37 GP- 7 goals- 20 assists- 27 PTS

Dougie Hamilton career vs Toronto: 8 GP- 1 goal- 3 assists- 4 PTS

Tuukka Rask career vs Toronto: 14 GP (12 started) 10 wins- 2 losses- 1.59 GAA- .945 sv%

Keys to Victory

Oct 25, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Bruins center Gregory Campbell (11) tries to fight off Toronto Maple Leafs center Leo Komarov (47) as he turns and shoots at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Any game against the Boston Bruins is going to be a tough game for the Toronto Maple Leafs. They have a hard time establishing their style of play which was evident in the last game they played against the Bruins. They lacked confidence and made some terrible decisions with the puck that basically handed the Bruins freebies.

If the Leafs want any chance of beating the Bruins they have to protect the puck. Force the Bruins to earn their chances and try to limit their chances in front of the net. The Bruins scored a lot of their goals against the Leafs by going to the net. If the Leafs can force the Bruins to the outside they can possibly limit the high percentage scoring chances.

Oct 31, 2014; Columbus, OH, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Phil Kessel (81) passes the puck to center Nazem Kadri (43) who shoots the puck in for a goal against Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Curtis McElhinney (30) during the third period at Nationwide Arena. The Leafs won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Leafs’ top players cannot be invisible! Against a team like the Buffalo Sabres or the Colorado Avalanche you expect your best players to rack up some goals, but what makes them your best players is how they play against elite competition. So far the Leafs best players have been too quiet against these elite teams and it has hurt the Leafs’ chances to win. The depth players have found ways to produce for the Leafs but the Bruins depth players will be able to match up against the Leafs depth players. So it will be up to players like Phil Kessel, James van Riemsdyk, Nazem Kadri and Dion Phaneuf to step up their game and give the Leafs a chance to overcome the Bruins.

The Bruins are known for being pesky (hence the title of the article), it was evident with the amount of slashes that Phil Kessel had to deal with. If the Leafs can get under the Bruins skin by forcing them to take careless penalties it can give the Leafs some motivation and keep the Bruins in their own end. Players like Leo Komarov, David Clarkson, and Nazem Kadri are known for getting under opponents skin, they will have to do that to give the Leafs a bit of an edge.

Oct 17, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Detroit Red Wings center Darren Helm (43) controls the puck as Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly (44) defends at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Leafs will not be able to match the Bruins defensive play but the Leafs have the skating ability to get them out of trouble. Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner will have to use that to get them out of trouble. The Bruins will force them to pass the puck but if they can get their legs going it will make it harder for the Bruins to defend the Leafs forwards who will benefit from the defence getting involved in the rush.

Nov 1, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews (19) and Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Stephane Robidas (12) battle for position at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto defeated Chicago 3-2. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Stephane Robidas and Roman Polak will have to be calming influences for Gardiner and Rielly and have to avoid putting them in bad situations. If Gardiner and Rielly make a bad decision in their own end Polak and Robidas have to back them up while trying to alleviate some of the pressure from Rielly and Gardiner.

Nov 9, 2014; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer (34) blocks a shot from Ottawa Senators left wing Clarke MacArthur (16) in the third period at the Canadian Tire Centre. The Maple Leafs defeated the Senators 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

I would go with James Reimer over Jonathan Bernier because of the way Reimer has played against the Bruins. They also have a tough game against the Pittsburgh Penguins so it will be interesting to see who Randy Carlyle chooses to start in-goal in both games.

I think this will be a hard game for the Leafs to win and the only way that I see them having any chance in this game is by having a good start. If they start the game like they have in the past then the Bruins will make them pay for it. The game against the Chicago Blackhawks is a good example of the effort needed from the Leafs to beat an elite team (minus the 27 shots allowed in the third period).