The Leafs will be experiencing something this evening against the Bruins they haven't all season. They will have to figure out how to stop a two-game losing streak.
After 23 games, more than a quarter of the season, Toronto lost back-to-back games for the first time after a sluggish week with a 4-2 loss in Buffalo on Wednesday and a 3-1 setback to the Islanders on Friday.
The task now is to find a way to defeat Boston when it enters Air Canada Centre on Saturday. The Bruins, and the surging Senators, each sit only two points behind the Leafs for first place in what has suddenly become a very tight division race.
Toronto and Boston have nearly identical records, 12-6-2-3 and 11-6-3-2, respectively, so this will certainly be no easy game for the Leafs. They hindered their chances in each of those two losses by falling behind in the first period and, in the case of the Sabres games, spent most of the contest fighting back from a two-goal deficit.
One of the keys for the Leafs will certainly be to get a more efficient power play unit together. After an 0-4 effort on Friday, Toronto now ranks 24th in the NHL with an 11.7% rate with the man advantage. What will make their challenge even greater is that the Bruins lead the league with a 90.6% rate killing penalties. A goal or two with the extra man would be a huge boost for the Leafs.
Where the Leafs can take some solace is in the fact that they do make good use of the shots they do get on goal with a 10.6% shooting percentage to rank 10th in the league. This is one area with a clear advantage over the Bruins who rank dead last with a measly 7.0% mark. It seems a key will be for the Leafs to minimize the number of shots they allow on net because Boston hasn't made good use of its opportunities.
Following Saturday's home date with the Bruins come games with Carolina a back-to-back set with Chicago so the Leafs would be well served to end their losing streak before a more lengthy string can build.