Game preview: Bruins vs. Leafs

Game preview: Bruins vs. Leafs
March 19, 2012, 10:14 pm
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BOSTON -- The Bruins ended their losing streak Saturday, and they need to start their roll.
A victory over the Maple Leafs tonight would give them a two-game winning streak as they leave for a three-game West Coast trip. And Toronto is the perfect opponent: The Bruins are 5-0 against the Leafs this season, with a 28-10 advantage in goals.
In fact, the Bruins are 22-5-5 in their last 32 games against the Leafs and have played the stronger, better, older sibling in a big brotherlittle brother rivalry for the last five years.
It was a slap to the face when the Bruins saw the Senators in the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference standings on Friday, and theyve finally started doing something about it.
We knew about it, and we were trying in those games against Florida (losses to the Lightning and Panthers last week), said David Krejci. Everything just went wrong, but it was nice to get a win finally. We need to build on that, though, and get a role going.
The Bruins are still very much aware that theyve gone 6-13-1 since the beginning of February, and a single win against a hated opponent (Philly) isnt enough to fully turn things around. They need continued solid defense from the newly combined pairing of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, they need Tim Thomas to keep appearing as if hes found his second wind, and they need to keep playing with the snarling disposition they had from the very beginning of Saturdays victory.
They also need the points, thank you very much.
"Everybody's scrambling for points, said Zdeno Chara. Everybody's trying to establish position in the playoffs, in the standings and going into the playoffs. So every point is important."
Once again the Bruins will be playing on Monday night when both the Panthers and the Senators will not, so they have a chance to create a little more space in the standings. All they have to do is knock around Phil Kessel and Co. one more time in their own backyard, and thats something theyve had no problem doing for the last three season.

PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRES PUMPED: Joe Corvo will be a healthy scratch for the second time this season and for the second game in a row. Corvo is a minus-4 in nine games during the month of March, and was a big part of the defensive problem in games against the Lightning and Panthers during Bostons disastrous three-game road trip. If the Bruins continue to lock things down defensively with Corvo out of the lineup over the next few games, its difficult to see him forcing his way back into the top-six unless injuries hit their depth.

DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: Were just one point ahead. We want to make the playoffs, but we also want to have home-ice advantage. We want second place in the East. You could see in the last couple of playoffs that the home ice has helped us so much. David Krejci, feeling the Bs urgency with only 11 games left in the season.

KEY MATCHUP: Zdeno Chara continues to be Phil Kessels worst nightmare and that shouldnt be any different on Monday night. Kessel has one game and is a minus-9 in five games against the Bruins this season, and has never been able to overcome the physical abuse and grinding defense heaped on him each time he plays is old hockey club. Itll be that much worse for No. 81 now than Dennis Seidenberg has been matched up with Zdeno Chara in the shutdown defensemen pairing that performed so well for Boston in the postseason.

STAT TO WATCH: 13 the number of consecutive games that Tim Thomas has appeared in when he gets the expected start against the Maple Leafs on Monday night at TD Garden.

INJURIES: Tuukka Rask (groin strain) is out for 4-6 weeks and may not return before the end of the regular season. Nathan Horton (concussion) hasnt appeared back on the ice since suffering a concussion on Jan. 22, and there is no timetable for his return. Rich Peverley (knee) has begun skating with the team and could be cleared for full contact at practice as early as Tuesday. For the Maple Leafs All-Star forward Joffrey Lupul is out with a shoulder injury and Mike Brown has been missing for the Maple Leafs with an upper-body injury.

GOALTENDING MATCHUP: The Bruins plan on continuing to call Tim Thomas number and hell make his 13th straight appearance when he suits up against Toronto on Monday night. Thomas appeared to finally find some defensive comfort in front of him with the CharaSeidenberg defensive pairing reunited, and stopped 27 of the 29 shots he faced Saturday afternoon against the Flyers. The matinee victory also introduced new pads and a new stick for Thomas, who appears to have found some luck with an equipment change. James Reimer will be getting the start in goal for the Maple Leafs and has stopped 63 out of 65 shots in his last two appearances. While the young goaltender struggled for much of the season, it appears hes finally putting it together at the end of the season.