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Tonight the Leafs Wear the Target

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
TORONTO -- Morning skate in Toronto is always an event and this morning was no exception for the Boston Bruins, who visit the Air Canada Centre and the Maple Leafs tonight on Hockey Night in Canada (NESN, 98.5 FM The Sports Hub) at 7:00 p.m.

Fans in the ACC stands during the a.m. warmup could be heard to whisper "the first place Maple Leafs" in turn with "don't wake the sleeping bear" and the B's themselves were very aware of both Toronto's position in the standings as well as their own spot in the Northeast Division cellar.

"They’re in first place right now," said forward Shawn Thornton. "They’re a hot, good team.

"But we’re trying to be consistent now and we had a good game last game, but that was a few days ago and now we have to work on continuing to have good games one at a time...and hopefully string a few together.

"We’ll focus on them tonight, try and get this win, and then we’ll focus on what’s next."

Across the B's locker room, left wing Milan Lucic talked about the B's work toward "maintaining a high level of play" in the practices between the club's 5-3 win over the Ottawa Senators and tonight's tilt with Toronto.

Lucic said that Maple Leafs presented another good test for his Bruins.

"Toronto has been playing real well, especially of late with two big road wins for them," said Lucic. "When you have a good road-trip like that you’re always excited to play that first game at home, so we know that they’re going to be an excited team and so are we.

"We obviously did a lot of good things in the last game that we played and we just want to build off that."

Boston Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien agreed that the B's "looked more like our team" versus Ottawa, but reminded the reporters in his morning media scrum that the Bruins have had a lot of offensive opportunities go by the wayside during the club's first 11 games.

"The only thing I would say about that is that we haven’t been able to bury those chances and that’s what’s keeping our goalscoring down and it’s as simple as that," said Julien. "Sometimes we have a tendency to want to complicate the issue.

"It’s not that complicated. I think we’ve just got to bear down on our opportunities, make them count, and things will turn around for us."

Several members of the B's would love to see that turnaround continue in front of friends and family. Players like Thornton, Tyler Seguin and Guelph's Rich Peverley hope to see success against their hometown team.

"Yeah, it’s always nice to come back to Toronto. It’s where I’m from, there are a lot of good friends and family around here, but it’s about the game tonight and getting a win," said Peverley.

"I’ve been here before, I know what to expect of them, but it’s still kind of cool," said Seguin. "Even pregame skate, when I looked in the stands I remembered when I came with my dad and family and mom whenever I came down to Leafs games, so it’s a little surreal, but at the same time I’ve got 'business' tonight.

"Again, a big test tonight," added Seguin. "The hottest team in the league right now for sure — first in our division.

"So we’ve got to be ready, we’ve got to come out strong and play the full 60 tonight."
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