NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, March 31st
(All times eastern)
Toronto Maple Leafs (35-32-10) at Boston Bruins (43-23-10), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Toronto Maple Leafs will try to boost their fading
playoff chances tonight, when they visit the rival Boston Bruins for an
Original Six clash at TD Garden.
Despite winning four of their last five games, the Maple Leafs are fighting to
stay alive in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Toronto is currently 10th
in the East and is seven points behind Buffalo for the conference's eighth and
final playoff spot.
Toronto, which recorded a regulation win against the Sabres on Tuesday, has
already set a dubious club record with five straight seasons outside of the
playoffs and has just five games remaining to keep that drought from reaching
Boston, meanwhile, has already clinched a playoff spot and is closing in on a
Northeast Division crown. The Bruins are seven points ahead of Montreal for
the division lead and can claim the title over the idle Habs with a win
The Maple Leafs have won three of their five meetings with the Bruins this
year and Toronto recorded a 5-2 home victory when the clubs played on March
19. The teams have split the last eight encounters overall and Boston has won
seven of the last nine matchups on its home ice.
Toronto picked up a big 4-3 win over the visiting Sabres on Tuesday, as Clarke
MacArthur registered one goal and two assists for the desperate Leafs.
Mikhail Grabovski scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period for
Toronto and rookie James Reimer made 28 saves for Toronto.
"We had all four lines contributing tonight," said MacArthur. "Everyone was
firing on all cylinders tonight and when we play that way we can beat
Toronto is playing the first of two straight on the road tonight and has a
17-18-3 record as the guest this season. The Leafs will visit Ottawa on
Boston has also won four of its last five outings and the Bruins picked up a
second straight victory Tuesday against the visiting Chicago Blackhawks. Tim
Thomas made 32 stops for his ninth shutout of the year to lift the Bruins to a
3-0 win over the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Nathan Horton, Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuk all scored for the Bruins, who
are three points back of Washington for the second spot in the Eastern
"We had to come out strong against a team that is desperate and the Stanley
Cup champions," said Boston head coach Claude Julien. "We've gotta keep taking
that approach every time we step on the ice from now on."
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton is questionable tonight after suffering a cut
above his right eye in Tuesday's game. Thornton needed 40-plus stitches to
repair a laceration caused by the skate of Chicago's Fernando Pisani.
Boston is playing the middle portion of a three-game homestand tonight and has
won three of its last four at the Garden. The Bruins are 19-13-5 as the host
It's unclear if Thomas or Tuukka Rask will get the start in net for the Bruins
tonight, but Reimer is expected to get the call for Toronto.
Rask is 1-0 with a 1.67 goals-against average in two games (one start) against
the Maple Leafs this year. Thomas is 1-2-1 with a 2.58 GAA in four starts
03/31 11:50:38 ET