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Ice Breakers: Bruins-Maple Leafs, Tuesday 3/9

The road trip continues tonight for the Black and Gold, as the Bruins (29-24-11) make their third stop on their current seven-game trip, this time in Toronto to face the lowly Maple Leafs (20-33-12). These two teams should know each other pretty well by now, having faced each other four times already, including less than a week ago, last Thursday in Boston.

Most of the Bruins news in the last 48 hours has revolved around the condition of center Marc Savard, arguably the team’s best player. Unless you’ve been living under a rock since Sunday, you have probably seen the hit to the head that Savard suffered in Sunday’s 2-1 loss to the Penguins. Savard, who lost consciousness at the time, was carted off the ice on a stretcher, and has since been diagnosed with a grade two concussion. He has been flown back to Boston to rest, and a timetable for his return to action has not been determined.

Colin Campbell, the NHL’s disciplinary head honcho, is expected to rule on the hit and the potential suspension of Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke as early as today. According to a radio interview yesterday however, Campbell was quoted as saying that he has determined the hit was not with the elbow, but instead with the shoulder. Boston hosts Pittsburgh next Thursday at TD Garden in what should be a game that old time hockey fans should circle on their calendars.

But the injury woes don’t stop there for the bruised Bruins. It was learned at this morning’s team skate that captain Zdeno Chara sustained a lower body injury in Sunday’s game as well, and will be out of action tonight against Toronto. Chara is just one of four Bruins who has yet to miss a game this season. To fill the void, Boston has called up defenseman Jeff Penner from Providence. Penner will make his NHL debut tonight.

So, after all that good news, let’s take a closer look at tonight’s matchup with the Leafs, the Eastern Conference’s cellar dwellers…

  • This will be the fifth meeting of the season between these two teams, with Boston having won three of four so far. On Thursday, Boston edged the Leafs in a shootout win, 3-2, on the heels of a 24-save performance from Tim Thomas.
  • Early indications point to Thomas making his third consecutive start tonight against Toronto, but signs point to Tuukka Rask being fully recovered and ready to return to action. The team sent Dany Sabourin back down to Providence, leaving Rask as the backup for tonight, with Rask telling media he is 100% healthy.
  • Also on the injury list for Boston is defenseman Andrew Ference, who remains in Boston nursing a groin strain. For Toronto, their walking wounded include Fredrik Sjostrom (shoulder), Mike Van Ryn (knee), and Mike Komisarek (shoulder), all who will miss tonight’s game. Mikhail Grabovski, the team’s third-leading scorer, could return to action tonight after missing time with a broken wrist.
  • Ahead of Grabovski on the stat sheet are Tomas Kaberle (6G, 40A) and former Bruin Phil Kessel (22G, 20A). Kaberle is the only defenseman in the league to lead his team in scoring. If his lead over Kessel holds until year’s end, he will be the first Leaf defenseman to lead the team in scoring in any season.
  • Toronto boasts the goaltending tandem of Jonas Gustavsson (10-13-8, 2.99GAA) and veteran Jean-Sebastien Giguere (6-12-6, 2.94GAA).

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