Bruins vs. Maple Leafs Preview
TORONTO, Ont. (AP) - The Boston Bruins have one of hockey's hottest goaltenders on their side, and after scoring eight goals in their latest game they showed they're capable of backing Tim Thomas with an explosive offensive performance.
The Toronto Maple Leafs wish they could say the same.
Ending a four-game losing streak during which they've totaled four goals won't be easy for the Maple Leafs on Saturday as they host Thomas and the Bruins, who have already handed Toronto one of its league-high six shutout losses.
Oddsmakers from online sports book SBGGlobal.com have made the Bruins –135 money line favorites for Saturday's game against the Maple Leafs. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 65% of more than 140 bets for this game have been placed on the Bruins -135.
The over-under is set at 5. Boston is currently 6-15-3 on over-unders this season, while Toronto is 8-16-0.
Thomas has regained his 2009 Vezina Trophy-winning form, going 13-2-1 with a 1.44 goals-against average and a league-high five shutouts.
He made 41 saves in a 3-0 victory over Philadelphia on Wednesday and stopped all but one of the 38 shots he saw Thursday against Tampa Bay. This time, Boston's offense stole the show, getting goals from seven different sources in an 8-1 rout.
"When you have momentum, you want to hold onto it because it is easy to lose," defenseman Zdeno Chara said. "Between last night and tonight, we were able to put together two good games, but once you think you have it, that is when you lose it."
Twelve players had a point, and while Marc Savard was held off the scoresheet in his first appearance since Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Bruins (14-8-2) were just happy to have the two-time All-Star back from a lengthy battle with post-concussion symptoms.
"He didn't look like he missed a beat," coach Claude Julien said. "I liked his game from start to finish and his stamina was great."
Savard didn't have a point in Boston's final three games against the Maple Leafs (8-12-4) last season, but he was the top star in the Northeast Division rivals' opener. Savard had his first hat trick since 2002 in the Bruins' 7-2 win on Dec. 5, capping a five-game stretch versus Toronto - all victories - in which he totaled four goals and eight assists.
Any offense may be enough to beat the Maple Leafs. Toronto was blanked for the third time in its last six games in an embarrassing 5-0 home loss to Edmonton on Thursday.
"I just felt like we almost quit on the goalies there a little bit and it's not acceptable," forward Clarke MacArthur said.
The Leafs, who have dropped 16 of 20 since their 4-0-0 start, were booed throughout. As the minutes ticked down, several fans chanted "Fire Wilson! Fire Wilson!" in reference to coach Ron Wilson.
"We've got three or four guys who should be scoring on some of the chances they've had, and they're not," Wilson said. "And when they don't score on those chances, it affects the rest of the team."
One of the players to whom Wilson was undoubtedly referring is former Bruin Phil Kessel, who has a team-high 10 goals but only three in his last 16 games. With winger Colby Armstrong set to return Saturday after finger surgery sidelined him for 16 games, Kessel volunteered to move to center.
He'll skate with Armstrong and Kris Versteeg as his wings, but Kessel hasn't had much luck against the team that dealt him to Toronto for three draft picks in September 2009. Kessel has no goals on 25 shots and just one assist in seven games versus Boston.
Thomas stopped 20 shots in a 2-0 win over Toronto on Oct. 28, improving to 6-0-1 with a 2.61 GAA in his last seven games in the series.
Bruins backup Tuukka Rask is 4-1-0 with a 1.78 GAA against the Leafs, who drafted him 21st overall in 2005.