Leafs After Five Straight
If the Toronto Maple Leafs are going to extend their season-high winning streak to five games, they might need to generate more shots. A meeting with the Boston Bruins at Air Canada Centre on Saturday might help them do just that.
The Maple Leafs (12-11-6) have scored nine goals on just 31 shots in their last two victories, including a 16-shot performance in a 6-2 win over the New York Rangers on Thursday.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Toronto -154 money line favorites (NHL Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 5.5 goals (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 82% of bets for this game have been placed on Boston +144 (View NHL Bet Percentages).
Toronto now gets to face Boston (14-10-3), which has allowed 51 goals on the road compared to 19 at home.
On Thursday, Nik Antropov scored on all three of his shots for his second career hat trick, two days after Toronto had 15 shots in beating Nashville 3-1.
"Obviously, we'd like to get more than we had these last two games," said Leafs captain Mats Sundin, who has three goals and four assists in the last five games. "We've got to produce more shots than 16 if we want to be successful, but at least we're not giving up the high quality scoring chances. Not too many, anyway."
Toronto, which had won two in a row just once before this spurt, last won five straight from Jan. 27-Feb. 6 - its longest winning streak last season.
Vesa Toskala has been a key factor during the Leafs' current run, posting a 1.75 goals-against average and starting all four victories. His outstanding play is welcome after he went 6-8-3 with a 3.16 GAA in his first 18 games.
Toskala struggled in his last start against the Bruins on Nov. 20, allowing three goals on 24 shots in a 4-2 defeat.
That loss was Toronto's third in a row to its fellow Original Six opponent. The Leafs have dropped seven of their last nine overall meetings against Boston, going 1-4-0 at home while being outscored 14-4 in those defeats.
The Bruins, meanwhile, continue a difficult stretch of nine of 10 games on the road after losing 4-2 to Montreal on Thursday in the lone home contest over that span. Boston was coming off a 3-2-1 record during its season-high six-game road trip.
"You can't complain about the schedule," captain Zdeno Chara said. "We are a better team than that but we have to put this behind us because we have another tough road trip ahead."
Boston, which makes stops in Buffalo and Atlanta before opening a four-game homestand next Thursday, is 7-7-2 on the road.
The Bruins might give rookie goaltender Tuukka Rask his second consecutive start after he allowed all four goals on 30 shots to the Canadiens. The 20-year-old Rask was thrust into the starting role Thursday after starter Tim Thomas suffered an apparent groin injury in a 4-3 overtime loss at New Jersey on Wednesday.
Rask was impressive in his first career start against Toronto - the team that drafted him 21st overall in 2005 - on Nov. 20, stopping 28 of 30 shots.
Boston may also decide to give veteran goaltender Alex Auld his first start after acquiring him from Phoenix on Thursday in exchange for minor league forward Nate DiCasmirro and a fifth-round pick in the 2009 draft.
Auld was 3-6-0 with a 3.54 GAA and one shutout in nine games with the Coyotes this season. He is 1-2-1 with a 2.14 GAA in four games against the Leafs.
by: Staff Writers - Email Us
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