It’s true, the Boston Bruins still have some regular-season games left. The way this last week went, you’d think they’d already be playing in the Super Bowl.
But the bye week after last weekend’s dramatic win over New Jersey is finally in the rear view, and the Bruins will be back in action tonight at Air Canada Centre against a pesky Toronto Maple Leafs club that rallied from four goals down to keep things interesting last night in Buffalo.
The Bruins will have to guard against two things tonight in addition to the overzealous play of the Leafs. Boston will have to come out and keep things simple to guard against rustiness after their five-day hiatus. And they’ll have to be sure not to try to do too much in the absence of leading goal-scorer Phil Kessel. The star winger is out with an undisclosed injury, and that will put the onus on Blake Wheeler (probably from the top line), Chuck Kobasew and Michael Ryder to give the Bruins the production they need from the right wing. Wheeler, in particular, needs to find his touch again after scoring just one goal in his last 14 games.
Season series: The Bruins are 4-1-0 vs. Toronto this season, including two one-goal wins at Air Canada Centre. This is the final meeting of the season between the two Northeast Division rivals.
Toronto Player to Watch: Last season, he was a great comeback story after his bout with cancer and he captured the 2008 Masterton Trophy. This season, winger Jason Blake is just back to being his normal, high-scoring self. Blake is first on the Leafs in goals (25), points (58), game-winning goals (5) and shots (272), is tied for the team lead in shorthanded goals (1), and is third in assists (33). The Bruins will have to keep a close eye on the diminutive Blake, who has victimized Boston for three goals and one assist this season.