The Boston Bruins enter February only one point back of the Atlantic's 2nd/3rd place tenants, the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning, and six points off the pace set by the first-place Florida Luongos. After the B's went 1-4-1 to start January, you would have to concede that they'll take it; the Bruins are in a playoff spot as they begin the second half of their campaign, two points and a game-in-hand clear of 9th. Their opponent to start the second half? The struggling Toronto Maple Leafs, who've already been responsible for six Boston standings point this season.
Just The Facts:
How/When To Watch:
- The Leafs might not have ever been really in the Atlantic race, but they've definitely fallen out of it now; that 1-7-2 stretch saw their offense go cold, effectively ending a puncher's chance of making a WC run in Mike Babcock's first year. Babcock's got them playing good teams close quite frequently, but they're not winning a lot of late.
- As you probably already know and love (to some degree), David Pastrnak and Malcolm Subban have been called up to the Bruins. We certainly wish Jonas Gustavsson a big "get well soon," of course. That said, it's neat to get Pastrnak back his AHL playing-time-grab and also to be able to take another look at Subban (though when he'd start a game is anyone's guess).
- All-Star rep Leo Komarov is having a fantastic year, having netted 16 Goals and tallied 31 Points total. Both categories lead the team. Tyler Bozak leads the team in Assists, because we needed a fact more unlikely than Leo Komarov being an All-Star and, frankly, that'll suffice. James van Riemsdyk has chipped in a sweet 14-15-29, and Nazem Kadri has heated up to be at 10-16-26 with a whopping 176 SOG. P.A. Parenteau rounds out the Leafs double-digit goal-scorers with a 11-12-23 line (and is probably a prime candidate to be moved somewhere as a secondary scorer near the deadline).
- From the blue line, our ol' pal Dion Phaneuf and Morgan Reilly have 22 points apiece, with both being rather Phaneufian at the other end. Jake Gardiner's chipped in 3-12-15. The rest of the corps are names you'd associate with "depth" or "oh, that guy's still playing? Huh." (Um, though I guess I shouldn't pretend the Bruins are THAT different...)
- James Reimer (.932 in 22 starts) is supposed to start for Toronto, this year forming the much more effective part of the tandem with Johnathan Bernier (.902 in 21). Tuukka Rask would be the probable for Boston, as I kinda doubt Subban gets the nod after just one practice with the team and two Sabres games coming up, but don't quote me on this.
- Toronto's possession numbers have improved under Babcock, if not their finish; they're actually around the same % of Shot Attempts as the Bruins, though the B's have converted on their chances much more often and have the stronger of the two power plays.
- As always, check back for the specific lines post around lunch-having-time!
Presented, again, without comment.