Tonight, the Toronto Maple Leafs are in Boston, Massachusetts to take on the Boston Bruins at TD Garden.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are coming off of a 6-1 thrashing over the New Jersey Devils at home.
Last night, the Maple Leafs were nothing but electric in the offensive zone. Even though they were out-shot 39-32, the Maple Leafs were able to establish scoring chance after scoring chance. John Tavares grabbed the first goal in the game in the middle of the first period and then the Maple Leafs were silent till the second period. In the second, the Maple Leafs came out blazing. They were able to tally four goals against a very weak Devils defense. All-in-all, it was a great win and a joy for Maple Leafs fans to watch.
Before I go on to preview tonight’s game, I wanted to talk about Ron Hainsey briefly. Leafs Nation is not a fan of Hainsey. There are many Toronto Maple Leafs fans that loathe him, believe that he is clueless with the puck and shouldn’t be paired with Morgan Rielly. They are correct.
Hainsey can’t move the puck, can’t complete even short passes, and his lack of speed is evident any time an opposing forward easily beats him with the puck. But, credit where it’s due: he played great last night and had two really nice assists.
In addition, Kasperi Kapanen had a great game. He might not be lighting up the lamp, but he’s stellar in the defensive and neutral zones. He’s a puck thief and he showed that his defensive skill-set isn’t slowing down. At this point in the regular season, Kapanen owns a 50.9 CF%, 4 blocks, 21 hits and 11 take-aways in 16 games played.
With how well the Maple Leafs have been playing as of late, the expectation is that Mike Babcock won’t make many changes to his lineup. The only projected change is that Garret Sparks is likely to man the pipes for Babcock, per a report from Paul Hendrick of The Leafs Nation Network. Coming off of a back-to-back, it makes sense to rest Frederik Andersen, who played last night against New Jersey.
In terms of the Boston Bruins, they are coming off of an 8-5 loss against the Vancouver Canucks. So, the Bruins will be hungry to pickup a win.
The major change for the Bruins is that Tuukka Rask will be out of the lineup. He is currently on a leave of absence from the Bruins for personal reasons. With Rask out of the lineup, it’s likely that Bruce Cassidy will have Jaroslav Halak in net tonight. Halak is been stellar so far this season. At this moment, he owns a 1.96 GAA, .936 SV% and 2 shut-outs.
In the offensive zone, the usual suspects, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak and David Krejci are the ones to watch out for. Bergeron leads the pack in points and has 8 goals and 13 assists in 15 games played. If the Toronto Maple Leafs can shut down one or two of the Bruins offensive assets listed above, they should be able to grab their fourth win in a row.
While the Bruins’ top six is solid, their defense is even better. Almost all of the Bruins defensive unit owns a CF% north of 50%. The only two exceptions are Charlie McAvoy and Jeremy Lauzon. The defenseman that I would watch for is Matt Grzelcyk. I’ve always been very high on Grzelcyk and consider the Charlestown, Massachusetts native to be very underrated. Per Daily Faceoff, he’s playing third line minutes alongside Steve Kampfer, but he’s making the most of his time on the ice. In 13 games played, Grzelcyk has 1 goal, 6 assists, 12.5 S%, 19:27 ATOI, 11 blocks, 8 hits, 6 take-aways and a 51.5 CF%.
Prediction & Notes
If the Toronto Maple Leafs can shut down the Bruins offensive assets on Boston’s top two lines, they should be able to secure another win. My prediction is that the Toronto Maple Leafs will beat the Bruins by a score of 4-3.
Puck drop will be at approximately 7:05 pm EST and the game can be found across Canada on CBC.
stats from NHL.com and hockey-reference.com