The Toronto Maple Leafs are scoring plenty of goals, but allowing the most in the NHL. The Boston Bruins are getting great goaltending, but precious little offense.
As a result, the Northeast Division rivals find themselves in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference entering their first meeting of the season Thursday night at TD Banknorth Garden.
Toronto (7-7-5) has scored 61 goals this season, a total which trails only Carolina. The Leafs have tallied three goals or more in 14 of their 20 games, but have allowed a league-high 67 goals and are at the .500 mark with their season nearly one-quarter over.
The Bruins (8-6-2) have the opposite problem. Boston has managed two goals or fewer in each of the last five games and in all but five contests this season, but retains a respectable record thanks mainly to outstanding play by goaltender Tim Thomas.
Thomas made 45 saves Saturday night as the Bruins snapped a four-game losing streak with a 2-1 home victory over Buffalo. Thomas improved his season save percentage to .950 and lowered his goals-against average to 1.65, while allowing just one goal for the sixth time in his 12 starts.
"It seems like we're saying the same thing every night," Bruins right wing Kobasew said of Thomas. "He's kept us in every game. We came into the third period with a 1-0 lead and that was because of him."
Kobasew scored his seventh goal - tied with Marco Sturm for the team lead - on the power play at 8:45 of the third period to provide the winning margin. Each of the last seven games has been decided by one goal for Boston, which got outshot 46-22 by Buffalo.
"We gave up 46 shots and our goaltender was very good," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "We're just not giving up many goals. We've got to find that balance between defensive hockey and offensive hockey."
The Maple Leafs could say the same thing, albeit for the opposite reason. Toronto has given up four goals or more nine times in 17 games, including Tuesday night's 4-3 overtime loss to Montreal.
Despite putting 40 shots on net to the Canadiens' 25, the Leafs suffered their fifth loss in the last seven games. Andrew Raycroft allowed all four goals, including the game-winner by Mike Komisarek 35 seconds into the extra session.
Raycroft, who spent his first five seasons in Boston before being dealt to Toronto prior to the 2006-07 season, saw his GAA rise to 3.09 and his save percentage fall to .896. Vesa Toskala has started 13 of Toronto's 20 games but has fared even worse, with a 3.55 GAA and an .889 save percentage.
The Bruins won five of the eight meetings in last season's series between these Original Six franchises, although Toronto went 2-1-1 in Boston. The Leafs routed the Bruins 10-2 in their last visit to TD Banknorth Garden on Jan. 4, when Thomas allowed eight goals.
Alexander Steen had a hat trick for Toronto in that contest, while Matt Stajan and Bates Battaglia added two goals each.