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Ice Breakers: Bruins-Maple Leafs, Thursday 12-10

It’s been a quiet week for the Black and Gold since their Saturday night stomping of Phil Kessel and the Toronto Maple Leafs (10-13-7). Behind a nifty hat trick by Marc Savard, the Bruins (15-9-5) were able to pummel the young Toronto squad, racking up seven goals en route to a 7-2 beatdown. Tonight, the Leafs return to the scene of the crime, looking to avenge the embarrassing loss from five nights ago.

While the B’s haven’t played a game since Saturday night’s tilt, the Leafs have come back to win their last two games heading into tonight. On Monday, the Leafs won handily over Atlanta 5-2, while last night they held on to beat the Islanders 3-2 after squandering an early two-goal lead. Don’t be fooled by Toronto’s lousy record; this team is definitely on the rise. After just an abysmal October (1-7-4 in the month, including an 0-7-1 start), the Leafs were able to get their sniper back in the lineup, as former Bruin Phil Kessel made his Toronto debut to kick off November. The Leafs have been a much better 9-6-3 since Kessel’s return, with Phil the Thrill contributing 10 goals and six assists in his 18 games in the blue sweater.

Not a ton has changed between Saturday and today about these two squads, but let’s still take a closer look inside this divisional match-up…

  • Both Boston and Toronto have identical records of 7-2-1 in their last 10 games.
  • Tonight’s game will feature the league’s best penalty killing unit, Boston at 86.1%, against the league’s worst, Toronto at 71.3%.
  • Scoring first is key against these Leafs. Toronto is 6-0-2 in the eight games where they score first. Otherwise, when falling behind early, their record is 4-13-5.
  • Toronto’s scoring is led by veteran defenseman Tomas Kaberle, who only has 2 goals on the year, but does have 27 assists. Behind Kaberle is winger Niklas Hagman (14G, 8A), and centers Matt Stajan (9G, 13A) and Mikhail Grabovski (6G, 15A).
  • Jonas Gustavsson started the season in net for the Leafs, but he has since been lost to injury. Instead, Toronto features Vesa Toskala (3-4-2, 3.72GAA) and former Bruin Joey MacDonald (1-4-0, 3.20GAA). Toronto currently ranks 29th in the NHL at 3.47 goals against per game, only above Carolina’s 3.53 mark.
  • On the injury front for Boston, we won’t know until game time which set of defensemen the B’s will dress for tonight’s game. Both Dennis Wideman (upper body injury) and Derek Morris (undisclosed injury) missed practice time this week, but both are probable to play tonight (Morris more so than Wideman). If either or both cannot suit up tonight, both Matt Hunwick and Johnny Boychuk will be eagerly awaiting the call.

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