3Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
Photo Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

LGD: Look up, way up

These are nervous times for Leafs fans. Fun, but definitely nervous. After tonight the club will have only 11 games remaining in their season, and right now they still cling to that final wildcard spot. But while we’ve been so busy hoping the they can fend off teams like the Lightning and Islanders from overtaking them, it’s been easy to forget they still have a very real shot of landing third in the division.

With the Leafs just three points back of Boston for that three seed and holding a single game in hand, their tilt against the visiting Bruins tonight is yet another “most important game of the season”, and we really mean it this time.

Tonight’s game is one of the very few left where the Leafs can make ground and directly hurt another team near the bubble, with arguably the only other remaining against the Lightning in the last week of the schedule. [Maybe you can toss the Florida game in there.]

THE LEAFS

Defensive Pairings
Morgan Rielly
Morgan Rielly
Connor Carrick
Connor Carrick
Jake Gardiner
Jake Gardiner
Nikita Zaitsev
Nikita Zaitsev
Matt Hunwick
Matt Hunwick
Roman Polak
Roman Polak

Carrick is finally back, in his first game since February 21st. If these pairings stick, he should be in for a busy night alongside Rielly. What a way to jump back in.

THE BRUINS

Defensive Pairings
Zdeno Chara
Zdeno Chara
Brandon Carlo
Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug
Torey Krug
Adam McQuaid
Adam McQuaid
Colin Miller
Colin Miller
Kevan Miller
Kevan Miller

This Bruins forward group is obviously a lot to handle when healthy, but that defence is still suspect, especially against a speedy team like the Leafs. The last game between these two was that 6-5 thriller in Boston, and I kind of expect something similar tonight, given Toronto’s weakness on the blue line as well.

Some Numbers

TOR BOS
POINTS PERCENTAGE .564 .577
POWERPLAY 23.6% (1st) 20.8% (10th)
PENALTY KILL 83.3% (9th) 85.4% (2nd)
SCORE-ADJUSTED CORSI 51.1% (9th) 55.7% (1st)

Starting Goaltenders

Andersen (0.918 sv%) and Rask (0.912) have both been confirmed.

What To Watch Out For

Brad Marchand has been on an absolute rampage for the Bruins recently, and has vaulted himself into real contention for both the Rocket Richard and Art Ross trophies with 37 goals and 79 points. With Connor Carrick returning and being paired with Rielly, I’m assuming that pair will get to see a lot of Marchand and look to limit him somewhat. Then again, the Leafs have put up 14 goals through their first three matchups with the Bruins so far this season, so this is a team they can beat with their speed and a bit of run-and-gun. With that in mind, we’ll see how much they want to open things up with such crucial points on the line.

Game goes at 7:30 EST on TSN4 (local broadcast)

  • Stan Smith

    I thought when they split Rielly and Zaitsev up that Zaitsev and Gardiner comprised the first pair, but either way you are correct in stating he should be in for a busy night, if he is covering defensively for Rielly.

    I would expect we will see Kadri facing off against Marchand, which will be interesting to watch, just to see who agitates who the most.

  • FlareKnight

    Another big game. Of course they all really are big at this point of the year.

    A big chance for the Leafs to make up ground on Boston and get right on their heels. Be nice as well to try and create more distance between us and the teams behind us. If we want to get that third spot in the division…gotta win this.

    Hopefully the Leafs can score some goals and find a way to limit Marchand’s chances.

  • Gary Empey

    The Bruins are a much improved team since the last time we played them. They have won 7 of their last ten games. I wonder if Babcock will start our 4th line on the first shift to night again. Both teams know this is an important game.