By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj
Only a few days removed from one of the worst third-periods in recent memory, the Boston Bruins are back against their Original Six rivals, the Toronto Maple Leafs, in game one of a back-to-back this weekend. Sunday’s 5-4 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers marked the fourth-consecutive loss by the Bruins, dropping their record to 11-3-4, but still hold the first place position in the Atlantic Division.
Toronto is not doing so hot as of late, either, losing two consecutive games and falling out of a playoff spot early on in the season. Not long after the return of captain John Tavares, the Leafs lost forward Mitch Marner for the next four weeks due to a high ankle sprain. Toronto also recently saw the return of forward Zach Hyman, but still lost a 5-4 game to the New York Islanders. The Leafs are ninth in the Eastern Conference with a 9-7-4 record.
BOS: Tuukka Rask 7-2-2 2.16 GAA .926 SV% Last Game: 25 Saves in 5-4 SO loss to FLA
TOR: Frederik Andersen (Likely) 9-3-3 2.72 GAA .912 SV% Last Game: 25 Saves in 5-4 loss to NYI
Auston Matthews is one of the lone players not injured right now on the Maple Leafs so he is being tasked with the majority of the workload and he has stepped up to the plate. The superstar forward has points in five-straight games, improving his season numbers to 13-13-26 totals in 20 games played. Matthews has not scored a goal in the last three games, but has tallied seven assists in those games including a four-assist effort against the Chicago Blackhawks on November 10th.
Surprisingly, Danton Heinen has been really good for the Bruins as of late. The 24-year-old forward only has 4-4-8 numbers in 18 games in 2019-2020, but has scored points in each of the last two games. The Athletic’s Joe McDonald, (@JoeyMacHockey on Twitter), wrote an article on Friday about the recent play of Heinen and how even though he hasn’t come big on the score sheet, he still has played a great game – improving his net-front play and strength along the boards. Heinen has become a great versatile player and that article highlights that.
David Krejci has dealt with some early-season injuries that has halted his play, but yet the veteran center still has 2-7-9 numbers in 12 games and has six points in his last five games. Against the Panthers, Krejci played 17:34 of ice-time and tallied two assists on Anders Bjork’s power-play marker and Zdeno Chara’s third of the year. Both assists were primary helpers.
Kasperi Kapanen is going to be relied on a bit more with the absence of Mitch Marner and for the Maple Leafs, that production is going to need to come sooner rather than later. The Kuopio, Finland native has five goals and six assists for eleven points in 20 games on the campaign, but only has one point in his last five games – a goal scored against the Islanders. Kapanen, 24, signed a three-year contract extension with Toronto worth $3.2 million per season last summer.
Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy said recently that defenceman’s Charlie McAvoy’s play as of late has not been bad, but the production levels are just not there right now. Without power-play quarterback Torey Krug in the lineup, McAvoy needs to put up more points than his 0-4-4 numbers show now. It may be a lot to ask of him to play better offensively when he has been decent on the defensive side, but successful teams have showed that offensive threats on the blueline can pay off in the long and short term.
- F Brad Marchand is playing in his 700th career NHL regular-season game
- F Patrice Bergeron is one even-strength goal away (214) from passing Cam Neely (214) for sole possession of 6th-most even-strength goals in Bruins history
- F Patrice Bergeron is one power-play goal away (99) from 100 career NHL power-play goals
Toronto Maple Leafs:
- F John Tavares is three assists away (397) from 400 career NHL assists
Bruins vs Leafs Outlook:
It is only November 15th and this is the third meeting of four between the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2019-2020 NHL regular-season, with the fourth and final game taking place on March 14th in Boston. So far this season, the Bruins are winning the season series with a regulation win and an overtime loss back in October.
Friday’s contest in Toronto will be another battle of two teams dealing with injuries. For Boston, they will be without forwards Jake DeBrusk (lower-body), David Backes (upper-body), Zach Senyshyn (lower-body), and Karson Kuhlman (leg) as well as defensemen Torey Krug (upper-body), Kevan Miller (lower-body), and John Moore (upper-body). Forward Trent Frederic has been called up to the NHL and will play tonight as well. The Maple Leafs will be without forward Mitch Marner (ankle) and forward Alexander Kerfoot (face).
Boston’s power-play fell to third in the league at 30.5%, but still has a dangerous man-advantage along with their 82.1% penalty-kill percentage (13th in NHL). Toronto’s power-play needs work at 17.6%, while their penalty-kill is not much better at a 75.3% success rate so far this season.
The six most recent Hockey Hall of Fame inductees will be in attendance tonight as the Bruins and Maple Leafs host the annual Hockey Hall of Fame Game in the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00pm EST.