The Leafs look to build on a two-game winning streak against a familiar adversary tonight at the ACC.
The Bruins enter the game after an emotional, controversial win over the Pittsburgh in which Shawn Thornton pretty much committed assault on Brooks Orpik.
Loui Eriksson won’t play due to the after effects of a perfectly clean hit he sustained from Brooks Orpik which led to the aforementioned altercation. The Bruins are also without Chris Kelly, Adam McQuaid, and Johnny Boychuk.
Randy Carlyle probably won’t change much coming off a shootout win last night in Ottawa, although an infusion of fresh legs, be it Paul Ranger in for Mark Fraser (eh, Randy? eh?), could help in the back to back situation.
Last time the Leafs faced off with the Bruins on November 9, Boston dominated the first period, which included the infamous 2+ minute shift in Leaf end with Fraser, Ranger and a stickless Nik Kulemin on the ice. The Bruins were controlling pace of play (i.e. slowing it down and playing their game) with good puck management and an effective chip game. Their forecheck was forcing turnover after turnover, and the Leafs could not break up the Bruin cycle.
The Leafs surprised us with a great second period; an 18-shot effort that stemmed from a similar territorial dominance to what the Bruins imposed on the Leafs in the first period. Once the Leafs were able to string some passes together coming out of their zone, they were able to establish a forecheck, cycle and outskate the Bruins, which is the Leafs’ biggest advantage in this matchup.
A double minor high sticking call against JvR sunk the Leafs in the early third period. The Leafs could not reply on either of their third period powerplays.
The Cody Franson and Jake Gardiner pairing drove possession well in that game, and seem to know how to diffuse the Bruin forecheck effectively. Fraser, not surprisingly, struggled to get his feet moving and move the puck safely under pressure.
There is some talk Joffrey Lupul could play for the Leafs, as he was seen testing himself rigorously in the optional game day practice. Lupul scored the Leafs’ lone goal in the 3-1 loss last month.
Jonathan Bernier starts in net.