Pre-Game: Phil Kessel vs. Tuukka Rask
Phil Kessel has but one point in five games against his former side while recurrent Leafs nightmare Tuukka Rask, league leader in goals against average and save percentage, stands 3-1-0 against the club that drafted him. This match-up tonight marks the final opportunity this season to get a little bit of that sour taste out of the fan base’s collective mouth and perhaps symbolize that we, too, can make good trades.
Boston has everything to play for tonight. Jockeying for 6th-8th positions in the playoff picture with Montreal and Philadelphia (who hopefully by some divine miracle will all end up missing the post-season), Boston is also far from clear of the Rangers and Thrashers, two teams on the outside looking in and hot on the B’s tail sitting just two points back. Not only do the Bruins find themselves battling for playoff security but they’re also helping determine the position of their own draft pick. A victory tonight would be a near fatal blow to the Leafs quest to climb out of the Hall-Seguin sweepstakes, making it the very definition of a “win-win” from the Bruin perspective.
Leafs fans can take some solace in the fact that the Bruins are struggling hard in the goal-scoring department, thanks in part to Kessel’s departure and only exacerbated by Marc Savard’s indefinite absence from the line-up. The Bruins have only scored once in their last two after a 1-0 win over New Jersey and 1-0 loss to the Florida Panthers.
The Leafs are 6-3-1 in their last ten as the success of the post-Olympic break youth movement continues to breed hope among the fan base. Viktor Stalberg is the Leafs’ hottest hand at the moment with three goals in his last two games.
A win tonight will even the season series at three wins a piece, or give the Leafs’ the slight edge depending on your view on shootout losses. Here’s hoping Kessel lights the lamp for the first time against his former club and that the Leafs chase Rask from the net. To see Kessel help ruin the B’s draft pick and playoff hopes would be a triple-whammy of awesomeness.
Brayden Irwin will feature again tonight on a line with John Mitchell and Luca Caputi.
Tale of the Tape courtesy of NHL.com:
|Mar 9, 2010||BOS@TOR||TOR, 4 – 3|
|Mar 4, 2010||TOR@BOS||BOS, 3 – 2 (SO)|
|Dec 19, 2009||BOS@TOR||TOR, 2 – 0|
|Dec 10, 2009||TOR@BOS||BOS, 5 – 2|
|Dec 5, 2009||TOR@BOS||BOS, 7 – 2|