Tonight, Randy Carlyle looks to do what Ron Wilson couldn’t in four attempts this season – beat the Boston Bruins. The closest the Leafs have come was a 4-1 loss in early December as the Bruins have owned the Leafs by a collective score of 23-6.
The first order of business for Carlyle will be trying to clean up his team’s play in their own end and the neutral zone as the Leafs got burnt by turnovers and odd man opportunities against in their first four games against Boston. The Leafs will need an answer defensively for Milan Lucic (ten points), David Krejci (eight points) and Tyler Seguin (seven points), who have lit them up for 25 points collectively over the four meetings and have been red hot as of late. Carlyle will look to Frattin – Grabovski – MacArthur to provide the answer.
Carlyle will also have to put forth a plan for combatting the Bruins’ size advantage better than in previous tilts. Mike Komisarek and Jay Rosehill are apart of the lineup, but that’s a fourth liner and bottom pairing defenceman respectively; he’ll be encouraging the whole group to finish their checks tonight and to win more of the one-on-one puck battles.
The Bruins have not been themselves as of late, going 4-5-1 in their last ten. They are without Nathan Horton, Rich Peverley, and Tukka Rask due to injury.
Jonas Gustavsson and Tim Thomas will mind the nets tonight.
A win against Boston in Leafs’ first home game under the new head coach would be a huge boost to the collective confidence as the Leafs try to fight their way towards an unlikely playoff berth. Let’s hope the fifth time’s the charm.