It’s out with the Southeast Division (at least for one game) and in with the hardnosed Northeast Division tonight, as the Boston Bruins welcome Toronto to the TD Banknorth Garden.
The Bruins, winners of seven of their last eight, are coming off a stretch of six straight games against teams from the Southeast — five wins and one loss, with the defeat coming on the road against division-leading Washington.
While the region of the continent where the opponent is from will change, the Bruins know the object is still to make sure they keep the teams from lower down in the conference from taking them out.
“We want to keep going until Christmas. We’ve got four games and we’re priding ourselves on getting wins,” said Bruins center Marc Savard after his team’s morning skate. “Tonight’s the stepping stone for that. We can’t take this team lightly. Obviously, they’ve played great lately. They work hard for 60 minutes and we’ve got to bring our best.”
The Leafs have won three in a row and are 11th in the Eastern Conference.
Season series: The Bruins have won two of three from the Leafs, including one of two at the Garden. Blake Wheeler is Boston’s leading scorer against Toronto this season with four assists, while Tim Thomas — the expected starting goaltender — is 11-4-0-2 career with a 2.84 goals-against average against the Leafs.
Toronto Player to Watch: Here’s an odd stat for you. The 12-12-6 Leafs are 8-4-4 when defenseman Mike Van Ryn is in the line-up, including 2-0 since his return from injury Dec. 12. On the year, Van Ryn has posted three goals, five assists and a plus-2 rating. Of course, around these parts he’ll always be known as the guy Milan Lucic checked through the Garden glass.