BRUINS (4-7-0) at MAPLE LEAFS (9-3-1)
TV: CBC, NESN (HD)
Boston 4-6-0; Toronto 6-3-1
This is the second of six games between the Northeast Division rivals this season. Boston beat Toronto, 6-2, at TD Garden on Oct. 20.
Despite the four-goal difference between the teams on Oct. 20, the Leafs and Bruins are going through a role reversal early this season. Toronto is leading the Northeast Division and entered Friday tied atop the League standings with 19 points. The Bruins, crowned Stanley Cup champions not five months ago, can thank Columbus for being the only team keeping them out of the NHL cellar.
Toronto won both of its back-to-back road games Wednesday in New Jersey and Thursday in Columbus by a combined 9-4. Coach Ron Wilson commented after Wednesday's 5-3 victory in Newark that people were starting to get picky about how the Leafs were winning. He seemed to like it that way.
However, it's not all rosy in the big city. There is growing concern about the status of injured goalie James Reimer
, who did not practice Friday and will miss his seventh straight game Saturday with what the team is now calling an upper-body injury. The fear is that Reimer is suffering from concussion-like symptoms stemming from the inadvertent hit to the head he took in the Oct. 22 game against Montreal.
beat the Devils and Ben Scrivens
made his NHL debut in Columbus matter by stopping 38 shots for the victory. One of the two will start Saturday.
"I would say he kind of hit a plateau in his recovery so the trainers decided not to ask him to go on the ice," Wilson told reporters in Toronto. "With the other two goalies playing well, if he's not going to face a lot of shots (in practice) it's better for him to just work out off the ice."
The Bruins have to build on Tuesday's 5-3 win over Ottawa. Johnny Boychuk
and Daniel Paille
scored 57 seconds apart in the third period to snap a 3-3 tie and give Boston the cushion it needed to finish off its first win since beating the Leafs on Oct. 20.
The Bruins spent the next two days working on all of their systems, including special teams, in long practice sessions before going to Toronto on Friday to visit the Hall of Fame and sign autographs.
"We're touching the hour practices," Julien said Thursday according to the Boston Globe. "A lot of times, you try and stick under that and keep the pace of the practices as high as you can. But we have some things we have to work on. We're working on that. I think the guys are good with that. I thought our practice right until the end (Thursday), when it was time to battle, you could sense a little bit of fatigue. What you want to see is them battle through that, and they did."
For the Leafs, Joffrey Lupul
had 3 goals against the Devils and 2 assists against the Blue Jackets, Clarke MacArthur
scored twice against Columbus, and Joey Crabb
has goals in back-to-back games.
Reimer (upper-body injury) is out and Leafs forward Colby Armstrong
is still recovering from a high ankle sprain. … Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg
and forward Rich Peverley
did not practice Wednesday and Thursday, but are expected to play Saturday.
You have to go back a dozen years to find the last time the Leafs were this good and the Bruins were this bad to start a season. The Leafs are off to their best start since they were a similar 9-3-1 through 13 games in 1999-2000. Meanwhile, the Bruins haven't had as few as eight points through their first 11 games of a season since they were 2-5-4 that same season.
"Give the players credit, they've played well," Wilson said in regards to why the Leafs have gotten off to a fast start. "We've had pretty solid goaltending. We've got a really fast set of forwards, and our 'D' are doing a good job of being part of the play and moving pucks quickly so we can activate the speed."