Toronto is hosting game one of a two game home and home series with the Boston Bruins tonight. The two division rivals square off for the first time this season after Toronto swept the season series last year taking all four games by a combined score of 18-9. However, the Leafs are playing shorthanded, with Auston Matthews potentially missing the back to back games as he remains day-to-day with an injury.
The Bruins are hurting too… The Leafs are likely going to be without Auston Matthews, but the Bruins are down some key names as well. Who’s out for sure is long time Bruin David Krejci, a youngster on the rise in Ryan Spooner and two physically imposing players in David Backes and Adam McQuaid. Now the unlikely’s who still have that chance of playing are two time 30 goal scorer Brad Marchand, who hasn’t played in the last two games with an upper body injury, and another physical threat in Noel Acciari, who broke his finger early in the season and is close to coming back. So, Leaf fans maybe Matthews may miss this game, but given the names that are still in the lineup and who are out of Boston’s, I say advantage Leafs offence.
Keep Calm and Naz on… Nazem Kadri has been the biggest contributor this past week. Kadri has moved into Matthews’ first line role while making an impact scoring three goals in the last two games. Kadri is an emotional player, especially against Boston where he tends to be a little out of control. Tonight, Kadri needs to keep his emotions in check to continue his recent point streak. He needs to be a factor in this game, and won't help if he's taking penalties.
Andy the crook….Frederik Andersen has been lights out for the Leafs, stealing two wins against the Golden Knights and the Wild. With Tuuka Rask recently coming back from injury, it looks like Anton Khudobin gets the start in one of the games. The Leafs should really consider riding Andersen this weekend in divisional games. Andersen is a big part in the survival guide without Matthews and has embraced the role, which I think should translate into a big weekend against a shorthanded Bruins squad. It also helps to know the Leafs have four days of rest after the game on Saturday.
So be prepared to be……mildly entertained
This game will clearly be effected by key injuries to both teams including possibly each team’s superstars in Matthews and Marchand. However, whenever these two teams meet there are usually lots of goals and lots of physicality….folks this is a nasty rivalry….for that I give this game a 3/5 on the watchability scale.
Komarov – Kadri – Nylander Reilly - Hainsey
JVR – Marleau – Hyman Gardiner – Zaitsev
Brown – Bozak – Marner Borgman - Carrick
Martin – Moore – Leivo Andersen
Bjork – Bergeron – Pastrnak Chara – McAvoy
Schaller – Kuraly – Heinen Krug - Carlo
Beleskey – Nash – Czarnik O’Gara - Miler
DeBrusk- Szwarz – Vatrano Khudobin