Pre-game: Bruins vs. Leafs
It appears Curtis Joseph, who let in four goals on nine shots last night, is not the second coming of Christ. Justin Pogge, who replaced Joseph mid-way through the second period, made 14 saves, allowing one goal in the 23 minutes and 30 seconds he played.
You what that means? It’s Pogge time against the Boston Bruins tonight! If Pogge can hold the fort, he’ll likely get the nod against the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday â€“ which will mark the final game of Martin Gerber’s three-game suspension.
Even if Pogge backstops the Leafs to two consecutive victories it’s unlikely he’ll stick around with the club, and that’s the way it should be. The AHL playoffs are nearly underway, and Pogge could gain some valuable experience by playing as the starting netminder for the Toronto Marlies. Some NHL experience is always valuable, but it’s not as if the Leafs will smooth his transition to the NHL anyway. Play the two games, go back to the Marlies, and show the Leafs what you got in the ol’ skill bag (it’s an expression!) in September.
Back to the game tonight. The Bruins, who have clinched the Northeast Division title, enter tonight’s contest with a mammoth five-day layoff. They’ve won 3 out of their last 5 games, the last of which was a convincing 4-1 win over the surging New Jersey Devils. However, the Bruins have not fared well on the road of late, losing five consecutive games. This should ensure some intensity on the Bruins’ side, but what about the Leafs?
The Leafs, who have won 4 out of their last 6 games, are playing their second game in as many nights. The Leafs have a 3-3 record when playing on the second night of back-to-back games. Grabovski is riding a three game point-streak, (2G,5A in 3GP) so look for him to contribute on the score sheet tonight. And Niklas Hagman will be returning to the lineup, but he will probably see minimal ice-time due to his concussion.
The season series is 4-1 Bruins. They’ve won four consecutive games against the Leafs.
Boston: Phil Kessel, Marco Sturm.
Toronto: Jonas Frogren, Tomas Kaberle, Vesa Toskala, Mike Van Ryn
Boston PP: Ranked 4th in the league with 22.4 PP%; 4 goals in last 17 opportunities.
Toronto PP: Ranked 12th in the league with 19.7 PP%; 5 goals in last 17 opportunities.
Boston PK: Ranked 10th in the league with 82.4 PK%; 3 goals against in last 25 times shorthanded
Toronto PK: Ranked 29th in the league with 75.8 PK%; 2 goals against in last 9 times shorthanded
The Leafs know they’ve been beat four straight times against the Bruins, so look for them to have some extra motivation. That, and the fact they lost a heartbreaking game against the Buffalo Sabres after nearly coming back from four goals down. The Bruins are in a battle for 1st place in the Eastern Conference, so they won’t rest any of their top guns.
I can see this game coming down to the wire, as the Leafs are also fighting to stay mathematically in the playoffs (oh, I didn’t mention that? Probably because it means nothing in the long run). The Bruins will come out of the gate a little rusty, so it’s up to the Leafs to capitalize on their opportunities early.
I predict 4-2 Leafs.
First star: Justin Pogge will backstop the Leafs to a victory tonight behind a solid Leafs defense. After a mediocre performance from Joseph and the defense last night, the Leafs will be wary of not making any mistakes in their own end.
Also, who will Luke Schenn uppercut for the one-hit KO tonight? Bwhahaha.
I look forward to your predictions!
You stay classy, MLHS.