BOSTON -- Few players have been hotter than Boston Bruins center Ryan Spooner.
Spooner, who has skated with wings Matt Beleskey and Loui Eriksson since center David Krejci went down with an upper-body injury and wing Brad Marchand returned from a suspension, has two goals and nine assists in the past eight games.
Entering the Bruins' game Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden (7 p.m. ET; CBC, CITY, NESN), Spooner has a three-game point streak with one goal and four assists in that span. More importantly, the 23-year-old has been earning more trust from coach Claude Julien.
"He's been good," Julien said after Spooner had one goal and two assists in the Bruins' 4-1 road win against the Buffalo Sabres on Friday. "Tonight, a couple of times there he got rid of the puck early … but he's been a real good asset for us or a real good replacement for David Krejci since he's been down. He's been really skating well, making things happen, backchecking; so (I'm) really happy with the way he's taken on that responsibility of losing David and coming in and giving us that second line that's been pretty good offensively."
The Bruins finished a five-game road trip with a 2-2-1 record after defeating the Sabres. Since Krejci was injured Jan. 9, the Bruins are 3-4-1. Last season, they missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs and went 16-13-6 when Krejci was out with injuries.
The tasks for the Maple Leafs will be to cool off Spooner and also find a way to score. During their four-game losing streak they have three goals. Toronto lost 4-1 at home to the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.
Not only are the Maple Leafs playing without injured forward James van Riemsdyk, who is tied with forward Leo Komarov for the team lead with 29 points, but they're also dealing with slumps from key players. Komarov and forward Joffrey Lupul haven't scored in 10 games, and center Tyler Bozak hasn't scored in eight games. The lack of offense concerns coach Mike Babcock.
"Obviously the first thing you do is say James is hurt," Babcock told the media after the Chicago loss. "So what if he's hurt. Let's find a way to score goals. You have got to beat the other team to three to win in this League and we didn't do that tonight."
Neither team held a morning skate Saturday.
Here are the projected lineups:
Shawn Matthias – Tyler Bozak – PA Parenteau
Michael Grabner – Nazem Kadri – Leo Komarov
Daniel Winnik – Peter Holland – Joffrey Lupul
Josh Leivo – Byron Froese – Brad Boyes
Jake Gardiner – Dion Phaneuf
Martin Marincin – Morgan Rielly
Matt Hunwick – Roman Polak
Injured: James van Riemsdyk (fracture foot), Nick Spaling (upper body), Stephane Robidas (upper body)
Scratched: Frank Corrado, Rich Clune
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Brett Connolly
Matt Beleskey – Ryan Spooner – Loui Eriksson
Frank Vatrano – Joonas Kemppainen – Jimmy Hayes
Zac Rinaldo – Max Talbot – Landon Ferraro
Zdeno Chara – Zach Trotman
Dennis Seidenberg – Colin Miller
Torey Krug – Kevan Miller
Injured: David Krejci (upper body), Chris Kelly (leg), Adam McQuaid (upper body), David Pastrnak (upper body)
Scratched: Tyler Randell, Joe Morrow
Status report: Pastrnak and Krejci have been skating despite their injuries.
Who's hot: Rielly has one goal and one assist in the past two games. … Eriksson has three points (one goal) in the past two games.