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Ice Breakers: Bruins-Maple Leafs, Saturday December 4th

What a time to be a Boston sports fan. The C’s beat up on Brian Scalabrine’s Bulls last night. The Pats are hosting the Jets Monday night at Gillette in the biggest game thus far in the NFL’s regular season. Gillette Stadium is buzzing today with six Eastern Mass. high school Super Bowls. Oh, and the Red Sox, the team that’s not even in-season, probably made the biggest news of them all this morning, trading for Padres All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

So, it’d be easy to forget that the Bruins (14-8-2), fresh off an 8-1 drubbing of the Tampa Bay Lightning Thursday night, head to Toronto this evening to take on Phil Kessel and the Toronto Maple Leafs (8-12-4) at Air Canada Centre. The B’s have been making some news of their own this week, first beating the Flyers Wednesday in the teams’ first meeting since last spring’s playoffs, then following it up with the trouncing of the ‘Ning Thursday.

Beyond the eight-goal onslaught Thursday, the game also marked the return of center Marc Savard. Savard didn’t earn a point in the game, but his presence on the ice for nearly 16 minutes was a sight Bruins fans had been looking forward to for a while.

The other news swirling around the team off the ice is the Marco Sturm situation. Thursday afternoon, it was reported several places that Sturm was heading to the L.A. Kings in a trade. Not so. The deal with the Kings reportedly fell through when Sturm failed his physical. And so, while Sturm has agreed to waive his no-trade clause to help faciliate a deal, he does remain with the Bruins, preparing for his eventual return to the ice in mid-December, not knowing with which team that return will be made with.

With all of that being said, the Bruins on-ice focus turns to the struggling Leafs, 0-3-1 in their last four games, and coming off probably their most embarassing loss of the year Thursday night, a 5-0 home loss to the lowly Edmonton Oilers.

To get you ready for tonight’s game, it’s time to throw some pre-game notes your way…

  • The 5-0 loss to Edmonton Thursday marked the league-leading sixth time Toronto has been shut out this season, all occurring in the team’s last 16 games.
  • Scoring has been a problem all season long for the Leafs, who rank 29th in the league with 2.12 goals per game. They have just 11 goals in their last seven games.
  • In an attempt to spark some offense, head coach Ron Wilson shuffled his forward lines at practice Friday, with the biggest change taking Phil Kessel off the wing and moving to center the top line, between former Bruin Kris Versteeg and Colby Armstrong, who will return to the Leafs’ lineup tonight after missing the previous 16 games with a torn knuckle tendon.
  • Speaking of Phil Kessel, he’s still aiming to score his first goal against his former team. The forward hasn’t lit the lamp in seven career contests against the B’s. He does lead the team with 10 goals on the year.
  • Toronto’s leading points man is LW Clarke MacArthur (7G, 11A), followed by center Mikhail Grabovski (5G, 11A), and winger Nikolai Kulemin (9G, 6A). Versteeg and Kessel each have 14 points thus far.
  • In goal, the Leafs feature a tandem of young and old. Jonas Gustavsson (3-7-2, 2.66GAA) and Jean-Sebastien Giguere (5-5-2, 2.90GAA) each have started 12 games for Toronto so far this season.
  • Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf remains sidelined with a leg laceration and winger Mike Brown broke a finger in Thursday’s loss to Edmonton, which will keep him out of action for 4-6 weeks.
  • In these teams’ only meeting of the season thus far, Tim Thomas earned one of his easiest shutouts of the season, winning 2-0 back on October 28th. In that game, rookie Tyler Seguin, a Bruin thanks to the Kessel trade, scored his first career goal at TD Garden.

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