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PREVIEW: Boston’s homestand continues against the Toronto Maple Leafs

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Another day, another game for Boston, and as each one passes a well-rounded win seems further out of reach.

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Boston Bruins
After Tuukka Rask took a leave of absence on Friday, Jaro Halak is now the starter by default.
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

PREVIEW

Just the Facts

Who: The Toronto Maple Leafs visit the Boston Bruins for the first of a four-game road trip, on the second night of a back-to-back. It’s also Boston’s first night of a back-to-back weekend at home.

What: Toronto comes off of wins against Vegas and Pittsburgh; Boston comes off a disappearing act of biblical proportions.

When: 7:00 PM

Where: TD Garden, Boston, MA

How to watch: NHLN-US, CBC, SN360, NESN

Rival SBN site: Pension Plan Puppets

Know Your Enemy

At the quarter pole of the season, Toronto seems to have leveled out a bit after a hot start to their season, sitting at a respectable 11-5-0 record. A huge credit to that is their currently undefeated road record (6-0-0). Goalie Frederik Andersen has been as advertised, holding steady in the top fifteen or so goalies in the league in save percentages, both raw and adjusted for quality of the shot. Toronto also has ten players who are averaging over a point per 60 minutes, two of whom are defensemen (Morgan Reilly and Jake Gardiner). Perks to playing with an offensively talented team, but can they play defense? Toronto is 19th in the league in CF%, leaving little room for error in possession of the puck. By contrast, Boston sits at 9th, though their outing against Vancouver definitely hurt their standing here.

Team Leaders

Goals: Auston Matthews, 10

Assists: Mitch Marner, 14

Points: Marner, 19

Other notes: Wouldn’t it be a great double-whammy if Boston could both win (YAY) and end Toronto’s unbeaten road record? (DOUBLE YAY)

Game Notes

  • Injuries will likely be a storyline for this game - Auston Matthews is still on the shelf for Toronto, as are Kevan Miller (hand), Charlie McAvoy (concussion), Urho Vaakanainen (concussion), and Tuukka Rask (personal leave of absence). Hard, however, to lend much attention to players that won’t be on the ice. Yes, we know Matthews is a ‘game-breaker’, so too could Charlie be considered, though on different spectrums.
  • Jacob Forsbacka Karlsson was recalled from Providence and is expected to play on Boston’s third line during this game. (Check the game stream for the latest lineup updates later today.) A spark, maybe, but given how rarely the third line has provided sparks this season, I just don’t see how JFK is going to improve that line’s attitude. TBD as to who on the B’s depth chart gets scratched instead.
  • The big questions that still need to be answered about this Bruins squad is simple: what kind of effort will they bring to EVERY game? Sure, we’ve seen some short stretches of brilliant play, but it’s either not sustained or the first line making everyone else look good. (And, really, they make everyone else look bad by comparison.) What we should hope for is maximum hustle from every player on the ice and smart, not-desperate plays. The antithesis of Thursday’s game, basically.

Which Bruins squad will we get?