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Maple Leafs (23-17-9) at Bruins (26-22-9)

The Bruins actually have a chance to go over .500 at home! Weird!

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Boston Bruins Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Last Wednesday’s 5-3 loss to the Washington Capitals wasn’t pretty, but the Bruins previous three-game winning streak was huge in terms of the team’s continued attempts to hold off the other teams in the Atlantic Division that’re snapping at their heels. Unfortunately, there’s still precious little daylight, so every divisional game versus the pack of teams below Boston—Toronto, Florida, Detroit...even Buffalo and Tampa—will remain huge.

Coming into tonight’s game, the Bruins have 58 points in 54 games. Every other team in the Eastern Conference has got games in hand on Boston, and no one more than tonight’s opponent, the--yes it’s strange to type this—up-and-coming Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Leafs somehow have five games in hand on Boston with 55 points in the bank. Florida, in-between the two in the standings, has 56 points in 52 games. Detroit 51 in 51. Buffalo 50 in 50. Tampa 50 in 52. Did I already mention these games are important to come out on top in?

Just the Facts:

The Time: 7:00 EST

The Place: TD Garden, Boston, MA

Place to Watch: NESN

Place to Listen: 98.5 The Sports Hub

Enemy Blog: Pension Plan Puppets

The Stakes: See above - the Leafs are already ahead of the Bruins in points-per-games-played.

Game Notes:

  • Tuukka Rask is expected back in net despite yet another tweak (while playing on a back-to-back...this sounds familiar) and Patrice Bergeron missed practice on Friday and is day-to-day.
  • The Bruins are 12-12-0 at home. Please win. The Leafs are 11-9-6 on the road.
  • The Leafs have dropped three in a row coming into this game, and are in the midst of one of their first real skids of the year.
  • They also just waived Frank Corrado and picked up Alexey Marchenko, so make of that what you will.
  • The Leafs have a pretty significant youth-wave going this season (as you’ve probably heard if you don’t live under a rock [which, in light of recent world events, I could easily forgive you for]) - Auston Matthews leads the team in goals (23-16-39), Mitchell Marner in points (13-29-42), and William Nylander’s chipped in 10-21-31. Guys like Connor Brown and Zach Hyman have been useful depth forwards (10-11-21 and 7-14-21).
  • In terms of the “old guys,” James Van Riemsdyk’s posted 17-24-41, Nazem Kadri’s potted 20 while being his usual agitator self with a team-leading 67 PIMs, and Tyler Bozak & Leo Komarov are still kicking around here somewhere.
  • On defense, Jake Gardiner leads a young corps with 23 points. In net it’s either Fredirik Andersen (.917 in 41 games) or back-up Curtis McElhinney (.922 in 10).
  • I’ve overused the word “young” here, but the Leafs are indeed the second-youngest team in the league this season.

Never Forget: