BOSTON – With Boston Bruins rookie Frank Vatrano ruled out by coach Claude Julien against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday at TD Garden (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, CBC, NESN) because of an upper-body injury sustained Thursday, it will probably fall on forward Matt Beleskey to fill the spot on left wing next to center David Krejci and right wing Loui Eriksson.
Beleskey started the season as Krejci's left wing but failed to find chemistry. In the Bruins' 4-2 win against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, Beleskey replaced Vatrano in the third period and assisted on Eriksson's third goal.
Beleskey has no goals and has three assists, in his past eight games, but he leads the Bruins with 68 hits and might be on the cusp of breaking out offensively.
"When you look at his game, the chances he had last game, he had some real good chances. The game before, hit a crossbar which would've tied the game," Julien said. "So I think it's just a matter of time for him. What we're looking for from Matty is for him to continue to shoot when he has that opportunity to shoot. For me he's working hard, he's competing in all areas. So sometimes with those players, when they do those things, you've just got to be a little bit patient and hope he gets a little bit of puck luck there, and he starts getting the goals that he deserves."
The Maple Leafs, winners of five of their past six games, did not report here Saturday morning because they arrived late Friday after a 2-1 shootout victory at the Carolina Hurricanes. The Maple Leafs will start goaltender James Reimer, who made 33 saves against the Hurricanes and has won five in a row. Backup Jonathan Bernier is winless in eight decisions (0-7-1) this season.
Here are the projected lineups:
James van Riemsdyk – Nazem Kadri – Leo Komarov
Shawn Matthias – Tyler Bozak – PA Parenteau
Daniel Winnik – Byron Froese – Joffrey Lupul
Michael Grabner – Peter Holland – Brad Boyes
Jake Gardiner – Dion Phaneuf
Matt Hunwick – Morgan Rielly
Martin Marincin – Roman Polak
Injured: Stephane Robidas (groin), Nick Spaling (upper body)
Scratched: Frank Corrado, Scott Harrington
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Jimmy Hayes
Matt Beleskey – David Krejci – Loui Eriksson
Ryan Spooner – Joonas Kemppainen – Brett Connolly
Zac Rinaldo – Max Talbot – Tyler Randell
Zdeno Chara – Zach Trotman
Dennis Seidenberg – Colin Miller
Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid
Injured: Frank Vatrano (upper body), David Pastrnak (foot), Chris Kelly (broken leg), Kevan Miller (upper body)
Scratched: Joe Morrow
Status report: Talbot was called up from Providence of the American Hockey League on Saturday. He played Friday night. ... Julien said Vatrano is expected to practice Sunday but Pastrnak remains on crutches, so there's no projected timeline for his return.
Who's hot: Bozak has a five-game scoring streak with seven points in that stretch for the Maple Leafs. ... Bergeron has a six-game point streak for the Bruins, with seven points in that span.