As Ryan O’Reilly makes his much-anticipated return from injury, the Maple Leafs are looking to ramp up to the playoffs and even up the season series in the final Bruins vs. Leafs litmus test of the regular season (7:00 p.m. EST, Sportsnet).

Toronto enters tonight’s game with the season series sitting at 1-2-0 despite controlling 53% of the shot attempts and 56.5% of the expected goals at five-on-five while out-performing Boston on special teams (3/7 on the PP for the Leafs and 1/6 for Boston, albeit with a Bruins shorthanded goal in there). However, the Leafs are losing the save percentage battle significantly to the tune of an .881 over all situations compared to the Bruins’ .917.

That said, there is only so much that can be read into past results in the season series given the evolution of the respective rosters over the course of the past six weeks.

The Leafs were without Auston Matthews in their last meeting with Boston (a 5-2 loss in Toronto) due to injury and have since added five players to tonight’s lineup via trade in Ryan O’Reilly, Jake McCabe, Sam Lafferty, Noel Acciari, and Luke Schenn.

The Bruins will be without David Krejci, Taylor Hall, and Nick Foligno tonight due to injury while adding Dmitry Orlov, Tyler Bertuzzi, and Garnet Hathaway to their lineup via trade. They will also be starting their number-two goalie tonight in Jeremy Swayman.

With both teams secure in their spots in the standings and health the most important priority above all else at this stage of the season, there is the risk of reading too much into this game, but it will still be a good test case for a Leafs lineup that appears pretty close to the one Sheldon Keefe would roll out if the playoffs were starting tonight.

The top six of Bunting – Matthews – Jarnkrok / Nylander – Tavares – Marner from the team’s win over Columbus is going to remain intact as the returning ROR is going to be tasked with centering a third line in between Alex Kerfoot and Noel Acciari. The ZAR – Kampf – Lafferty line that has given the Leafs good depth minutes and scoring contributions recently will remain together as Keefe establishes four lines under a 12/6 approach against a very deep Bruins team.

Head to Head: Bruins vs. Maple Leafs

In the season-to-date statistics, the Bruins hold the advantage over the Leafs in three out of five offensive categories and five out of five defensive categories.

Game Day Quotes

Sheldon Keefe on what the team can learn from its last few losses against Boston:

A lot of time has passed. A lot of things have changed since then. If anything, we want to draw on our experience in this particular building here. It was a very tight game. We were able to find our way back, but we ultimately let it slip away in the end.

You just know any time you are playing Boston that it is going to be a very difficult game. It is going to be a game in which you are going to have to find a way to beat them. They aren’t going to beat themselves.

If you look at their last six games, they’ve either gone to overtime or been one-goal games. That is an indication of the fact that they are in every game hanging around and finding ways to win.

It is going to be a challenging game mentally. It is going to be a challenging game physically because of the way they play and what they bring.

The most important thing for us is to continue to focus on our game. I think we have done a lot of really good things of late, and it is a great opportunity for us to put it up against a great challenge like Boston.

Ryan O’Reilly on the Leafs’ development staff helping him improve in certain areas of his game and come back ready for game action after the injury:

It is like nothing I have ever seen with the staff the Leafs have with the way everything is discussed and the plan for each guy. For myself, there was a plan in place. I am so impressed with it.

I will see how I can translate things I worked on with them into the game. I feel great coming back. I feel confident. I feel fast.

I think that is their goal, it’s what they do, and it’s why they’re so good at it. I am excited about it.

The staff is so knowledgeable and so detailed. I feel confident coming in.

Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery on the players getting up for a matchup between top teams:

It ups everybody’s antennas in terms of intensity, purpose, and being able to test yourself and where you are at — individually and collectively — against the elite teams in the league.

Montgomery on whether the team is emphasizing the opportunity to make NHL history for wins and points in a season:

We have talked openly about it. Now that it is such a short term — only five games — chasing history helps us mentally prepare for the playoffs.

We think winning begets winning. If we were four wins fewer, we wouldn’t have the opportunity, and maybe it is not as easy to get up for the games.

The regular season we have had so far is going to put us in a situation that is going to be able to help us in the playoffs.

Charlie Coyle on the motivation level entering tonight’s game:

Playing against teams we might play in the playoffs makes it easier to get up for the game. We want to show them our best and what we are capable of so they are thinking of that the next time they see us if they do.

It is a great test for us. We want to make sure we are up for it and give it our best to see how we match up this late in the year.

Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lines

#58 Michael Bunting – #34 Auston Matthews – #19 Calle Järnkrok
#88 William Nylander – #91 John Tavares – #16 Mitch Marner
#15 Alex Kerfoot – #90 Ryan O’Reilly – #52 Noel Acciari
#12 Zach Aston-Reese – #64 David Kämpf – #28 Sam Lafferty

#22 Jake McCabe – #78 TJ Brodie
#55 Mark Giordano – #3 Justin Holl
#44 Morgan Rielly – #2 Luke Schenn

Starter: #35 Ilya Samsonov
#60 Joseph Woll

Extras: Timothy Liljegren, Erik Gustafsson, Conor Timmins
Matt Murray, Nick Robertson, Jake Muzzin, Victor Mete

Boston Bruins Projected Lines

#63 Brad Marchand – #37 Patrice Bergeron – #74 Jake DeBrusk
#59 Tyler Bertuzzi – #18 Pavel Zacha – #88 David Pastrnak
#11 Trent Frederic – #13 Charlie Coyle – #10 A.J. Greer
#94 Jakub Lauko – #92 Tomas Nosek – #21 Garnet Hathaway

#48 Matt Grzelcyk – #73 Charlie McAvoy
#27 Hampus Lindholm – #25 Brandon Carlo
#81 Dmitry Orlov – #75 Connor Clifton

Starter: #1 Jeremy Swayman
#35 Linus Ullmark

Injured: David Krejci, Taylor Hall, Nick Foligno