Boston (38-27-6) travels to Toronto (32-23-15) Monday night to play the Maple Leafs, who are breathing down Bostons neck in the divisional race. The Leafs stand just three points behind Boston with a game in hand, so this game could really help swing the division. Boston is coming off an ugly 7-4 loss at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers and is looking to turn things around after having 3 days off. Toronto is 4-2 in their last 6 games and are coming off an overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. The season is coming down to its final stretch and both teams need points tonight, its shaping up to be one hell of a hockey game between two divisional rivals.

Scoring Leaders

Points

  • Brad Marchand – 79 (Boston)
  • Auston Matthews – 56 (Toronto)

Goals

  • Brad Marchand – 37 (Boston)
  • Auston Matthews – 32 (Toronto

Assists

  • Brad Marchand – 42 (Boston)
  • Mitch Marner – 38 (Toronto)

Keys for Each Team

Boston:

  • Boston needs to come out and play  strong first period, they need to eliminate any early mistakes or easy goals. This is what got them in trouble last game with  Edmonton, and what plagued them under Claude, they come out of the gate slow and not ready to play. They have been better under Cassidy but we saw that habit creep back up on Thursday, and the Bruins cannot let it happen again.
  • Stay out of the penalty box. Last game Boston gave up 3 power play goals and committed 6 penalties. Boston needs to be playing at full strength and cannot be killing penalties all night again. They need to play well on special teams, and make sure they are the ones cashing in on the power play and not the other way around.
  • Keep Matthews from putting the puck in the net. The 18 year old from Arizona has been lighting up NHL goalies all year and is making a great case to the win Rookie of the Year award. He is Torontos biggest offensive threat. The Bruins need to know where Auston Matthews is at all times and make sure he sees a lot of Bostons enormous defenseman Zdeno Chara. If Boston can bully Matthews around the net, line him up for a few big hits, and keep a defender between him and the net all night things will probably turn out pretty well for the Bruins.

Toronto

  • Shut down Brad Marchand. Bostons red hot winger has been lighting it in recent weeks and has 9 points in his last three games. Marchand has looked impossible to stop but if Toronto wants to win they need to at least slow him down. Toronto needs to limit Marchands scoring and force Boston to get points from their bottom lines.
  • Get Auston Matthews the puck. Matthews has been Torontos best scorer all year and is extremely dangerous with the puck on his stick. At the young age of 18 Matthews is already a bonafide NHL sniper, and one the leagues best natural goal scorers. Toronto needs the puck on his stick and to get him to dangerous areas where he can score.
  • Create chaos in front of Tuukka Rask. Rask is a great goalie, but even the best goalies find themselves helpess when they cannot see the puck. Toronto needs to create piles in front of the net to screen the Finnish goalie. You can’t save what you can’t see. Toronto also needs the guys in front of the net to get some pucks tipped in front of the net, those pucks that change direction in mid air can be the hardest for goalies to save. Toronto needs to get men, and pucks to the net and try to get some dirty goals if they want to beat the Bruins.

Projected Lineups

Boston Bruins

Forwards

  • Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Backes
  • Matt Beleskey – David Krejci – David Pastrnak
  • Frank Vatrano – Ryan Spooner – Drew Stafford
  • Dominic Moore – Riley Nash – Noel Acciari

Defenseman

  • Zdeno Chara – Brandon Carlo
  • Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid
  • Collin Miller – Kevan Miller

Goalie

Tuukka Rask

Toronto Maple Leafs

Forwards

  • Zach Hyman – Auston Matthews – William Nylander
  • Leo Komarov – Nazem Kadri – Connor Brown
  • James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Mitch Marner
  • Matt Martin – Brian Boyle – Nikita Soshnikov

Defenseman

  • Morgan Rielly – Connor Carrick
  • Jake Gardiner – Nikita Zaitsev
  • Matt Hunwick – Roman Polak

Goalie

Frederik Andersen

Both teams are coming into this game needing a win. Toronto is currently occupying the last wildcard spot in the East, while Boston is in the 3rd spot in the Atlantic. Toronto is gunning for Bostons third place spot, if Toronto can pull off the win tonight they will be only 1 point behind Boston with a game in hand. On the flip side Boston can put space between themselves and Toronto if they win tonight. With two more points Boston would have a commanding 5 point lead on Toronto. In any case neither of these teams wants to give the other a loser point, and let this game be decided in OT. If it comes down to the last 5 minutes and this game is tied to not expect these teams to be protecting their point.

Last time these two teams played it gave me one of my favorite moments of the season when Adam McQuaid dropped an absolute hammer of a punch and KOed Matt Martin. Here is a link to that fight https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YXCGx53TCg. With any luck we can see those two guys drop the gloves again. Brad Marchand looks to stay red hot and Auston Matthews looks to continue his rookie of the year campaign. Should be a great tilt tonight at 7:30 in Toronto.