January 03 2011 11:39AM
Let's be honest here. The Bruins are in town. Phil Kessel will be invisible. Boring hockey will be played. Colton Orr will fight either Milan Lucic or Nathan Horton. No more than 4 goals total will be scored. I hate watching game when the Leafs play the Bruins.
They are almost, almost as boring as watching games against Florida or the Rangers. Then again, Boston just had 6 goals scored against them on Saturday night by the Buffalo Sabres of all teams, so maybe their meteoric goaltending is finally coming back down to reality behind their shoddy defenese. And boy is it ever shoddy. Name me a Bruins defenseman that isn't Zdeno Chara.
Exactly, it can't be done. I had to look up their roster on NHL.com to learn that some guy named Steve Kampfer (not making that name up) is on their 3rd pairing.
Now historically, having such a bad defense hasn't hurt the Bruins because their goaltending has been the best in the league, and it still is, but Thomas and Rask are beginning to crash back to Earth after an unreal start. In his last 4 games, tonight's starter Tuukka Rask has twice posted a sub .850 sv%, lost three times, and been yanked after one period where he gave up 3 goals on 16 shots.
16 shots in a period works out to 48 for a game meaning that Boston has horrible defense as stated above. So maybe this won't be as bad of a matchup as I had feared because getting a lot of shots on net is exactly what the Leafs have had trouble doing this season.
28.6 shots a game. That's 8th worst in the league and what the Leafs have been putting up all season. 33.7 shots a game. That's 5th worst in the league and what the Bruins have allowed all season. I got to believe that a rejuvenated Leafs offense with young whippersnappers like Crabb and Boyce will be the group to break from tradition and outshoot their average tonight.
And if they do, they just might make a game out of this. Lord knows they need to because Boston is no slouch in the shot department, registering a league leading 33.4 shots a game. How unfortunate then that Toronto has a combined team save percentage of .895m "good" for 3rd worst in the league behind only Tampa Bay (Roloson will soon fix that) and New Jersey (Brodeur is fat and old).
But that's how it's been in Leafland this year. They simply are unable to get everything working at the same time. The Leafs are like an old beatup car. Fix the engine and the tranny breaks. Fix the tranny and the wiring goes bad. Fix the wiring and the radiator springs a leak.
At the beginning of the year everything worked too well, which is all too often the case when driving a used car off of the lot. Then yout get it home and the problems start up. First, the team was plagued with injuries. Then a severed lack of offense. Now it's the goaltending, once the lone bastion of hope for this team, that has gone sour. J.S. Giguere, when not hurt, has posted sub .900 goaltending all season and is likely in his last season in the NHL. Jonas Gustavsson is obviously fatigued and frustrated with his team's lackluster play and his numbers have also suffered.
James Reimer played great in his first NHL game, meaning expectation have been set far to high for him and he will be a "failure" by season's end. This is not a new problem; poor goaltending has been the bane of the Leafs since the lockout yet for some reason, it's never properly addressed. Ugh. Whether it's the Monster or Reimer getting the start tonight (Wilson has been aggravatingly mum on this), they need to stand on their head for a win because they're going to face a lot of rubber tonight.
Here's your Leafs lineup courtesy of Jonas Siegel. Lebda and Mitchell continue to sit.