Tonight, Randy Carlyle will stick with James Reimer seemingly in an effort to give Reimer a chance at staking a number one’s claim to the crease. Carlyle has stated his preference to have one emerge over the other rather than a 1A/1B rodeo situation, and allowing Reimer to try to play his way through a few shaky goals on Thursday seems to be the approach. Although it could be a simple case of Reimer giving the Bruins a stiffer test than Scrivens in the teams’ two meetings so far this season (at least according to the scoresheet; 1-0 loss to Boston in early February with Reimer in net).
Clarke MacArthur had an astute way of describing the strength of the Bruins a few days ago when he said, “they’re the closest team to playing 60 minutes every night in the league.” The Leafs are far from that lately, as it’s been impossible to tell which Leafs team you’re going to get going into a given period. That’s very likely going to have to change in a hurry if the Leafs have any chance tonight.
A couple of close losses to the Bruins this season gives the Leafs some hope going into this one. On the other hand, the Leafs have conceded 26 goals in 6 games since their 4-2 loss in Boston (including an empty netter). The Leafs had the right idea last time out against the Bruins, playing a patient and tight checking game for large spells of the contest. It was a few breakdowns that would cost the Leafs in a big way.
It will be interesting to see if Phil Kessel gets his first Bruins game away from Zdeno Chara, as Claude Julien may see fit to line Chara up against the white-hot Nazem Kadri and his line.
Even splitting these next two Bruins games could be a rallying moment for the team as they embark on their stretch drive to try to end the organization’s playoff drought. Let’s hope the Leafs, somehow some way, find a way to get the bear off their back.
In terms of lineup notes, with Leo Komarov out 7-10 days with an upper body injury, Ryan Hamilton will make his second appearance of the season on a line with Mikhail Grabovski and Matt Frattin.
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Toronto Maple Leafs Line-up vs Boston Bruins, March 23th, 2013