After a busy trade deadline day, or not so busy deadline day depending on which team we’re talking about, the Bruins (27-23-11) will get back to game action tonight at TD Garden in their final home game before departing for a season-long seven-game road trip up and down the Atlantic coastline. Coming to town tonight, the Eastern Conference’s cellar dwellers, Phil Kessel and the Toronto Maple Leafs (19-32-11).
Toronto was one of the busier teams during yesterday’s swap meet, as GM Brian Burke was in full seller mode in an effort to retool a Maple Leaf team that has been in flux since his arrival 15 months ago. The Leafs come off an embarrassing 5-1 loss to Carolina on Tuesday, falling eight points behind the ‘Canes for the bottom spot in the East. Every Toronto loss, of course, helps the Bruins out immensely, as the B’s own Toronto’s first-round draft pick in this spring’s amateur draft.
On the flip side, Bruins fans found themselves with a familiar feeling of disappointment Wednesday when GM Peter Chiarelli failed to land any scoring help as the trade deadline came and went. Instead, the Bruins will welcome new defenseman Dennis Seidenberg to the lineup this evening. Seidenberg, who was a teammate of Bruin Marco Sturm on the German Olympic team, will likely line up in the top defensive pairing tonight, opposite captain Zdeno Chara. The 28-year-old Seidenberg leads the league with 179 blocked shots, but has just two goals on the year.
Let’s now jump in and check out more game notes heading into tonight’s tilt with Toronto…
The home team has won each of this season’s previous three meetings between these two teams, with Boston notching convincing 7-2 and 5-2 wins in early December, followed by a 2-0 defeat in Toronto before Christmas. That game marked the first career shutout for Toronto goalie Jonas Gustavsson.
Patrice Bergeron, who sat out Tuesday’s loss to Montreal with a pulled groin, will also miss tonight’s game. Bergeron, who injured himself in the gold medal game against the U.S., is listed as day-to-day and hopes to return in one of the team’s games this weekend, either in New York or Pittsburgh.
Newly acquired defenseman Dennis Seidenberg will wear uniform number 44 in his Bruins debut this evening. The last player to wear 44 was another veteran defenseman Aaron Ward, who was coincidentally also dealt yesterday before the deadline, shipped from Carolina to Anaheim.
Marc Savard hasn’t scored a goal since December 23rd, despite notching ten assists in his last ten games. He did however, put up a hat trick earlier this season against Toronto on December 5th in a 7-2 win for Boston, so maybe tonight Savard will find his scoring touch again. Someone has to, right?
Beyond Gustavsson (9-13-8, 3.07GAA), Toronto’s goalie tandem features veteran Jean-Sebastien Giguere (6-11-5, 2.99GAA). Toronto’s 3.40 goals against per game is 29th best in the league, only above Edmonton’s 3.43.
Toronto’s scoring is led by veteran defenseman Tomas Kaberle, who was the hot topic of many trade rumors leading up to Wednesday’s deadline. Kaberle, who will remain with the struggling Leafs at least for the remainder of this season, has six goals and 40 assists this season, and will likely be dealt elsewhere in the off-season. Following Kaberle is familiar face Phil Kessel (21G, 20A), injured forward Mikhail Grabovski (7G, 18A), and newly acquired defenseman Dion Phaneuf (10G, 14A).
Tonight’s matchup will feature the league’s top-ranked penalty killing unit (Boston – 86.2%) against the NHL’s worst (Toronto – 71.8%).
While it’s unclear who will be in goal tonight from the team’s optional morning skate, whichever goalie takes to the ice tonight for Boston will likely face a barrage of Toronto shots. The Leafs don’t put a lot of pucks past opposing goaltenders, but they sure do take their fair share of shots. They currently rank third in the league in shots per game, at 33.1, just behind good teams that actually score, Chicago 34.2 and Detroit 33.2.