Tonight is the first matchup of the season between the Bruins and the Leafs - and also the first matchup that will see the two first-rounders from the Kessel trade on the ice.
Just the Facts
Game time: 7:00 PM EST at the Air Canada Centre. TV Broadcast: New England Sports Network (NESN) in New England; NHL Network outside New England; CBC, RDS in Canada. Radio Broadcast: 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Rival SB Nation Site: Pension Plan Puppets (Game preview forthcoming).
Records: Bruins (5-1-1) vs. Leafs (4-3-0)
Get tickets: here at TiqIQ
Projected Leafs lines:
van Riemsdyk - Bozak - Kessel
McClement - Grabovski - Kulemin
Frattin - Kadri - Komarov
Orr - Steckel - McLaren
Kostka - Phaneuf
Gunnarsson - Liles
Franson - Fraser
Projected Bruins lines:
Lucic - Krejci - Horton
Marchand - Bergeron - Seguin
Bourque - Kelly - Peverley
MacDermid - Campbell - Tardif
Chara - Boychuk
Seidenberg - Hamilton
Ference - McQuaid
On the Bruins' side of things, there are three players who've been acquired in some way thanks to the Maple Leafs: Tuukka Rask, Dougie Hamilton, and Tyler Seguin. On the Maple Leafs' side, there's Phil Kessel. That will likely, as always with these two teams lately, be the narrative tonight.
The Leafs haven't done too poorly this year, actually. Seven games into the season, they have eight points and four wins, the most recent two over the Sabres and the struggling Capitals. Although Phil Kessel hasn't managed to score a goal yet (I know, Leafs fans, Seguin only has an empty netter...but at least he could HIT the empty netter, ahem...), the Leafs have gotten some pretty consistent offense from a few of their younger players. Nazem Kadri has been pretty outstanding. He leads the team with three goals and four assists; Matt Frattin is hot on his heels with four goals and two assists. Both players were regulars for the Marlies last year, a team that made it all the way to the Calder Cup finals against Norfolk. The Leafs' third line will definitely be something to keep an eye on.
The best part of the Leafs' last game? This:
Additionally, the Leafs recently added Frazer McLaren, claimed off waivers from the Sharks. He's been a regular in Worcester for a while now, which means, yes - he's fought Lane MacDermid. Twice this year, actually. He's also had his face rearranged by our own Bobby Robin. It'd definitely be interesting to see if they go again tonight.
The Bruins, coming off a gross 7-4 loss to Buffalo, always seem to shake off whatever's bothering them just in time for Toronto games. Although 2/3 of the Merlot line has succumbed to injury - Shawn Thornton to a concussion and Daniel Paille to an upper-body injury, likely due to a high stick by Tyler Myers - Jamie Tardif and Lane MacDermid should be serviceable replacements on Gregory Campbell's wings. This will be Jamie Tardif's first NHL game; he is the only forward in Providence with more than 10 goals at the moment (he has 21; Ryan Spooner is next with 9.) and has been lauded for his leadership and attitude off the ice as well.
Up on the third line, 2013 whipping boy Chris Bourque is back in with Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley. The latter two seemed to pick up the pace with Daniel Paille on their line against Buffalo; hopefully some of that carries over into tonight's game.
Oh man, I forgot how awesome the second goal of this was.