I love a good rivalry and the Boston Bruins are currently the toughest rival the Leafs have these days.
The other teams in their division either can’t keep up or haven’t been in the division long enough to say otherwise. The Habs, Sens, Wings and Panthers are the teams I would place in the “can’t keep up” category (despite the Habs record). While the Lightning and Panthers (hey!! look at the Cats, they fit into BOTH categories!!) simply don’t have the history to have built up a fair amount of angst towards each other. That leaves just two teams, the Sabres and Bruins, who have rosters that can compete and have a strong label as “rival”. On top of that the Sabres have only come on lately, it’s not as strong a hate for fans (it seems) these days.
The Bruins though, thanks to two recent playoff series, are the rival of rivals right now and I want them in the playoffs this year for that reason. I’d love to see this team overcome their past failures, and I’d love to see some disappointed faces in Bruins sweaters.
As for tonight, if the Leafs want to win, it would be great to finally figure out how to shut down the Bruins top line. The Leafs won their last tilt by a score of 4-2, but Pastrnak and Marchand still combined for 4pts while not having Bergeron in the lineup. Lucky for the Leafs that they were missing Bergeron because the game before, a 5-1 Bruins win, saw the Leafs give up a Pastrnak hat trick while the line accounted for 4 of the 5 goals and produced a combined 9pts. Bergeron is still sidelined as well, so that will help the Leafs’ chances tonight.
This is on head coach Mike Babcock if you ask me. The Leafs have the personnel to play against those players, so they’re either not executing, or the game plan isn’t up to snuff and needs to change. Either way, while the Bruins do have some weapons after that top line, none of them have made much of an impact recently.
There was no morning skate today so we’re not 100% on what the lines might look like. William Nylander was with Auston Matthews to start his first game back against Detroit, but ended the game further down the lineup. If I’m Babcock I’d be much richer, and I’d also have William on a line with Kadri and Marleau. That would lead the way for a 4th line of Ennis/Lindholm/Brown and I think that could be defensively responsible and dangerous offensively. We’ll see how it goes, but easing Nylander into the lineup a little bit isn’t a terrible idea in my opinion.
I’ll update with lines if/when they are announced.
Frederik Andersen starts.
My prediction: 5-3 Leafs!! What’s yours?
Enjoy the game Jordan!! Wish I was there to have a few with you.
GO LEAFS GO!!