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Ice Breakers: Bruins-Maple Leafs, Saturday 12/19

The Bruins (16-10-7) will look to rebound from Friday night’s 5-4 shootout loss to Chicago tonight, when they travel north of the border to face off with Phil Kessel and the Toronto Maple Leafs (12-16-7).

This will be the third meeting of the month between these two squads, but the first away from TD Garden. Boston beat the Leafs 7-2 and 5-2 in the previous two meetings, extending their unbeaten streak over Toronto to seven games overall.

Both teams are looking to come back from losses Friday night. Boston was able to squeeze a point out of their game with the red hot Blackhawks, pushing the game to overtime and the eventual shootout, where Patrick Kane pushed one past Tim Thomas for the victory. Bruins center David Krejci’s two lamp-lighters, including one in the final three minutes of regulation, led the way for the Black & Gold. Meanwhile, the Leafs dropped their skate last night with the division-leading Buffalo Sabres by a 5-2 score.

Let’s take a closer look at tonight’s very familiar foe, the Maple Leafs…

  • Tonight’s matchup will likely feature two goalies who didn’t play last night. Tuukka Rask will most likely be in net tonight for Boston, after Tim Thomas had his struggles last night in Chicago. Rask was in goal for both of Boston’s wins over Toronto earlier in the month. For Toronto, expect to see Jonas Gustavsson (6-5-5, 3.11GAA) in goal tonight. The Leafs went with Vesa Toskala last night in Buffalo, but he finds himself in coach Ron Wilson’s doghouse after a rough stretch where he gave up four goals in six shots early in the game.
  • Boston should be able to light the lamp with ease tonight, as they face the league’s 29th ranked defense. The Leafs have given up a whopping 3.57 goals per game this season…Carolina is the only team whose worse than that, at 3.62 GAA. Toronto has given up five or more goals in four of their last eight games.
  • Tonight’s matchup will also feature the league’s worst penalty-killing unit, Toronto at 70.5%, against the league’s top-ranked PK unit, Boston at 86.4%.
  • All eyes will of course continue to focus on former Bruin Phil Kessel. Kessel was a non-factor in the two games in Boston, not appearing on the score sheet in either game. Take those two games out, and Kessel is a point-per-game player, putting up 13 goals and 8 assists in his other 21 games.
  • Other scoring leaders for the Leafs include defenseman Tomas Kaberle (2G, 29A), center Matt Stajan (11G, 17A), and winger Alexei Ponikarovsky (13G, 12A).
  • Both teams will be without a handful of their teammates due to injury tonight. For Boston, Milan Lucic remains sidelined with a high ankle sprain, while defensemen Mark Stuart (sternum) and Dennis Wideman (undisclosed) will also miss tonight’s skate. The Leafs will be missing four guys due to bumps and bruises, as Carl Gunnarsson (elbow), Mike Van Ryn (knee), Jamie Heward (concussion), and John Mitchell (lower body) will all be out of action this evening.

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