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Maple Leafs face postseason-type battle with Bruins

by Joe Yerdon

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs head into their game Thursday against the Boston Bruins looking to stay in the race for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Maple Leafs broke an eight-game losing streak with a 3-2 win against the Calgary Flames on Tuesday and sit one point behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"Obviously we like to know what spot we're in and what position we're in," Toronto forward Nazem Kadri said. "That's something we've been looking over the past few weeks, or even the whole course of the season, not just today. We understand where we're at and where we need to go, so tonight's an important building step in that direction, so we've got to make sure we come out ready to go."

Facing the Bruins creates a tough situation for the Maple Leafs. The Bruins can clinch the top record in the Eastern Conference with a win of any kind and a Pittsburgh Penguins loss of any kind to the Winnipeg Jets. The Bruins could clinch the top record with a point against the Maple Leafs and a Penguins loss in regulation.

When the Maple Leafs and Bruins played Jan. 14, Toronto won 4-3.

"I don't think Boston has a different game plan than they did have in January," Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. "That's not the way they play. They have, as I describe it, a template they like to play to. They bring personnel in that either plays to it or they don't get an opportunity to play. … That's a sign they feel confident in their group, and look at the success they're having."

The Bruins are 2-1-0 against the Maple Leafs this season.

"Just prepare yourself to play the best game of the year. That's what our mindset is," Carlyle said. "We have to play a high-level game, we have to have a team commitment to putting pressure and establish our forechecking game, and execute in the small areas. We have to earn our space."

The Maple Leafs recalled forward Carter Ashton from the American Hockey League. Jonathan Bernier was the first goalie off at morning skate and will start.

The Bruins did not hold a morning skate. They are coming off a 3-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday; Tuukka Rask made 17 saves.

Here are the projected lineups for the Bruins and Maple Leafs. Boston's lines are based on what they used against Detroit.


Milan LucicDavid KrejciLoui Eriksson

Brad MarchandPatrice BergeronReilly Smith

Chris KellyCarl SoderbergJordan Caron

Daniel PailleGregory CampbellShawn Thornton

Zdeno CharaDougie Hamilton

Matt BartkowskiJohnny Boychuk

Kevan MillerAndrej Meszaros

Chad Johnson

Tuukka Rask

Scratched: Ryan Spooner, Corey Potter, Torey Krug

Injured: Jarome Iginla (lower body), Adam McQuaid (IR – strained quadriceps), Dennis Seidenberg (IR – knee)


James van RiemsdykTyler BozakPhil Kessel

Mason RaymondNazem KadriJoffrey Lupul

Nikolai KuleminDave BollandDavid Clarkson

Jay McClementTroy Bodie

Dion PhaneufCarl Gunnarsson

Jake GardinerCody Franson

Morgan RiellyTim Gleason

Paul Ranger

Jonathan Bernier

James Reimer

Scratched: Carter Ashton, Colton Orr, Jerry D'Amigo

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