By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj
The Boston Bruins were on a five-game winning streak until they took a tough 4-2 loss to the Washington Capitals on Thursday. Ryan Donato and David Krejci scored the only goals for the Bruins while Jaroslav Halak made eighteen saves on twenty-one shots. Boston still holds a two-point cushion on the Buffalo Sabres for third-place in the Atlantic division but sits four points behind the Maple Leafs for second in the division.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have had a back-and-forth start to their 2019 calendar year. After a 4-3 loss to the Wild to begin the year, the Leafs beat the Canucks 5-0, lost to the Predators 4-0, and most recently, defeated the New Jersey Devils 4-2 on Thursday. Toronto currently has a four-point edge on the Bruins for second in the Atlantic division, but still sit twelve points back of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
BOS: Tuukka Rask 12-8-2 2.43 GAA .920 SV% Last Game: 24 Saves in 4-0 win vs MIN
TOR: Michael Hutchinson 3-3-2 3.29 GAA .886 SV% Last Game: 27 Saves in 4-2 win vs NJD
Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask is expected to get the start in tonight’s game against the Leafs and it makes perfect sense. The 31-year-old goalie has won each of his last four starts including a 4-0 shutout (his 42nd of his career) against the Wild on January 8th. In 2019 so far, Rask’s .982 save percentage is the best in the NHL and he is tied with Jordan Binnigton for best goals-against-average (0.50) in the two games played.
Free-agent acquisition John Tavares has been great for Toronto this season. In forty-three games played, the 28-year-old centre has twenty-nine goals and twenty-one assists for fifty points in that span. In the 4-2 win over New Jersey, Tavares scored two goals and added a helper for his fourth three-point game of the 2018-19 season.
Bruins defenceman Torey Krug is often in the middle of the Bruins trade rumours, but the 5-foot-9 defender is making a trade tough to deal with. Since coming back from injury, Krug has 4-25-29 totals in 33 games this season, including six points in his last five games. Krug also ranks third on the Bruins roster for most power-play points (18) behind Brad Marchand (19) and David Pastrnak (25).
After a brief two-game pointless streak, Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner came right back with a goal and an assist in the win over the Devils, bringing his season totals to 16-41-57 in 43 games. Marner leads the Leafs in points and is ninth in league scoring. His 41 assists so far tie him with Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames for fifth-most assists in the NHL.
It may seem odd to say, but Bruins leading scorer David Pastrnak is on a little bit of a cold streak. In the past three games, Pastrnak has failed to score a single point and has been a minus rating in two of those games. The three-game pointless streak is minor for Pastrnak, who has 25-27-52 totals in 44 games this season, but the Bruins need him to start picking up the pace offensively.
Like every team in the National Hockey League, the Maple Leafs have had their fair share of injuries as well. Lately, starting goaltender Frederik Andersen and backup goaltender Garrett Sparks both went down to injuries, leaving Michael Hutchinson to man the crease. The 28-year-old goalie has gone 3-3-0 with the Leafs along with a .886 save percentage and 3.29 GAA. Not good numbers, especially heading into tonight’s game against the Bruins.
William Nylander was in all the big news talks from the offseason right until December 1st when he signed his new contract. But since then, the former 8th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft has only scored three points (one goal, two assists) in fifteen games. Nylander is a -2 rating with 12 penalty minutes.
- BOS F David Krejci (604) is 2 points behind Terry O’Reilly (606) for ninth-most points in Bruins franchise history
- BOS D Zdeno Chara (956) is three penalty minutes behind Lyndon Byers (959) for ninth-most penalty minutes in Bruins history
- BOS F Patrice Bergeron is one game-winning goal away (60) from taking sole-possession of third-most in Bruins history
- BOS F Brad Marchand is one shorthanded goal away (23) from tying Derek Sanderson (24) for second-most in Bruins history
- BOS D Zdeno Chara is two goals away from 200 career NHL goals
Toronto Maple Leafs:
- No notable milestone that can be reached in tonight’s game
Bruins vs Maple Leafs Outlook
For the fourth and final time in the 2018-19 regular season, the Bruins and Leafs will meet on the ice for one of the best-renewed rivalries in the NHL today. To this date, Boston has taken 2-out-of-the-3 games, with the most recent win coming on December 8th – a 6-3 win.
Michael Hutchinson has not been too consistent in his recent time with the Maple Leafs. As with many other games, the Bruins need to bring down the confidence level of the opposing goaltender, in this case, former Bruin Hutchinson, in order to get a strong lead on the game.
In the two wins for Boston this season against Toronto, they have scored the first goal, in fact, they scored the first three goals in each of those two wins. The one time they lost – Toronto opened the scoring. It is a good chance that that trend continues in Toronto here tonight. Bruins also need the help of Leaf-killers, David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Marchand to lead the Boston offence early and often while Tuukka Rask needs to continue his recent solid play to keep the offence of Toronto quiet.
These two teams are closely matched and this will be the final time they get to play each other until the almost inevitable playoff series come April. Nonetheless, it is bound to be a great, competitive game of hockey. Below are most likely the lines of the Bruins heading into tonight’s game. Defenceman Charlie McAvoy returns to the lineup after missing time with a foot infection, while John Moore is scratched by Cassidy tonight.