Gustavsson may be the goalie the Leafs are looking for as he finally lived up to all the hype. But the bottom line for the Bruins is their offense is really struggling. Yes, they scored four goals in Chicago on Friday but they're not consistent and they are not creating enough legit scoring chances.
Marc Savard looks frustrated and almost uninterested right now. Yes that's a bit harsh but it's clear he is itching to have a quality sniper on one of his wings. People can whine all they want about the Phil Kessel trade but Savard and the Bruins need to move on and step it up to replace him. If they can't do the job, GM Peter Chiarelli will have to look for a trade to bring in a scorer. He told me on my radio show today that he plans on being patient for now, but this game may have changed his mind. The next two games before Christmas and the end of the current NHL Holiday Trade Freeze could determine his course of action.
The one positive from tonight would be that Johnny Boychuk is really becoming a presence out there. Many people are debating whether he launched himself into Matt Stajan on that third period hit? I don't think so but I'll have to watch it again carefully. Regardless, he is a physical and offensive presence with his shot and is helping this depleted defense.
Well it's off to Ottawa for the Bruins as they have another Northeast Division battle on tap. The Senators won tonight and have leap-frogged the Bruins into second place. They lead the Bruins by one point and the Sabres who lost tonight, lead the Bruins by five. So that game is suddenly a huge divisional battle!
Thanks for joining us here on our Live Bruins Blog and Happy Holidays. Also, be safe out there in the snowstorm!
Third period, 3:58, Leafs 2-0: Zdeno Chara is in the sin-bin on a questionable roughing call. Toronto is now on a 5-on-3 power play. The Leafs are 0-for-4 tonight.
Third period, 5:21, Leafs 2-0: Michael Ryder just killed the Bruins third power play with a dumb and dangerous boarding penalty.
Ryder saw the numbers and still followed through. In today's NHL, he has to know the referees are looking for that. Also, he could seriously hurt someone that way. He only needs to look at his teammate wearing No. 37.
Third period, 6:44, Leafs 2-0: Johnny Boychuk just put Matt Stajan into another world with a thunderous open-ice hit.
Stajan had his head looking up ice to pass and it was just a clean hit by Boychuk. Of course as the NHL is today, the Leafs start a fight after. Why must clean hits be answered with fights? How about answering with another clean hit?
Maybe this hit will wake the Bruins up here in the last six minutes.
The Bruins thankfully ended up with a power play from the post-hit scrum.
Third period, 10:17, Leafs 2-0: Jason Blake just padded the Leafs' lead to two, beating Tuukka Rask with a fluttering shot that may have been tipped off Adam McQuaid's leg.
Tough break for Rask and for McQuaid playing in his first NHL game. Rask appeared to be fooled on the shot.
With the way this game is going, that could be a back-breaker for the Bruins. Jonas Gustavsson is in the zone and they're not getting quality chances often tonight.
Third period, 11:49, Leafs 1-0: Tuukka Rask has made two huge saves this period and is not letting up rebounds as he was earlier.
Not a great power play for the Bruins and they're now 0-for-2.
Jonas Gustavsson continues to have answers for the precious few chances the Bruins get.
One has to wonder if the Bruins would rather have a top-rated power play rather than the penalty kill? I'm sure Claude Julien wouldn't as he's a defensive-minded coach but would they better off?
Third period, 15:00, Leafs 1-0: Zdeno Chara and Matt Stajan got tangled up and fell to the ice there with Chara maybe getting away with a penalty. Stajan in frustration, slashed Chara and the Bruins are on their second power play.
Third period, 17:11, Leafs 1-0: Underway in the third period and Adam McQuaid had a nice pass to Shawn Thornton but Thornton couldn't convert the one-timer.
Phil Kessel got his best chance in three games against the Bruins but couldn't bury a backhander.
Too bad for Kessel and the Leafs he didn't see a wide-open, streaking Alexei Ponikarovsky. Kessel doesn't think pass..ever!
End of second period, Leafs 1-0: Jonas Gustavsson is the story in Toronto so far as the Swedish "Monster" has stopped all 20 Bruins shots through two periods and the Leafs are up 1-0.
Really impressed with the positioning and presence that Gustavsson has between the pipes as he's not giving much space for the Bruins to shoot at.
The Bruins had a late flurry of chances there but their offense really needs to get more traffic in front and screen Gustavsson. Make life miserable for him and create second chances. Otherwise he is going to hold the edge on first attempts.
By the way, Marc Savard is really struggling right now. You wonder if the fact that he can't seem to click with his wingers or more they can't hang with him, is frustrating him?
Second period, 3:16, Leafs 1-0: Daniel Paille did a great job on the penalty kill with a shorthanded chance and the Bruins have killed off all four Toronto power plays.
Second period, 5:19, Leafs 1-0: Zdeno Chara is headed to the sin bin and the Leafs are headed onto their third power play. They're 0-for-3 tonight.
The Bruins are playing undisciplined hockey out there right now and need to get it together.
Second period, 7:23, Leafs 1-0: Patrice Bergeron just got called for tripping, nullifying the Bruins' power play.
Second period, 7:35, Leafs 1-0: The Bruins are going on their first power play of the game here. Let's see if they can get some better chances on Jonas Gustavsson even though they had a great one earlier in the period when Byron Bitz couldn't convert one in front earlier in the period.
Speaking of Bitz, he is really struggling to finish right now.
Phil Kessel and Marc Savard were getting into it earlier. That's surprising since they remain good friends off-ice.
Second period, 11:00, Leafs 1-0: It's a shame that the ACC is such a quiet building given that Toronto is such a hockey town.
It really is time for the NHL teams stop out-pricing the real hockey fans. The atmosphere there seems so lethargic.
Second period, 12:40, Leafs 1-0: The Bruins just killed off that four-minute penalty to Blake Wheeler for high-sticking and avoided what could have been a game-changing momentum shift.
Johnny Boychuk was great out there on defense and Patrice Bergeron, as usual, was doing a splendid job as well. Let's see if the Bruins can gain some momentum from that kill now.
Second period,17:36 Leafs 1-0: Tomas Kaberle looked to catch Tuukka Rask off guard there and the Leafs are up 1-0.
Mike Komisarek and Jamal Mayers had the helpers.
Blake Wheeler is also off to the sin bin for four minutes for high-sticking and things could get ugly in a hurry here for the Bruins.
End of first period, 0-0: Not exactly an exciting period to start the game and we have no score after one.
One thing that's easy to notice, is that the Bruins big guns, well supposed big guns aren't coming through right now with scoring chances and the fourth line of Steve Begin–Vladimir Sobotka–Shawn Thornton are the best line for the third straight game. That is great for them but not a good sign for the offense.
Blake Wheeler had another great period and is really playing great two-way and opportunistic hockey right now. He deserves props for his hard work in practice as it's paying off now.
Phil Kessel is close to invisible out there again with two shots and two giveaways, one of which almost led to a Marc Savard goal when Marco Sturm stole it away from his former teammate.
First period, 4:20: Tuukka Rask might have some extra incentive to beat the Leafs tonight and the reason stands between the pipes for Toronto.
Finland and Sweden are one of, if not the fiercest rivalries in international sports and Jonas Gustavsson hails from Sweden.
First period, 8:26: Michael Ryder seems to be everywhere right now but can't get that wrist shot going.
The Leafs defense also looks shaky and the Bruins are capitalizing with chances.
First period, 10:58: The Bruins need to be careful to not underestimate the Leafs after blowing them out twice already this season. So far they don't appear to be doing so.
First period, 12:48: There will be no Mark Stuart-Jamal Mayers rematch tonight but will we see a Shawn Thornton-Colton Orr bout again?
The Bruins and Leafs have had some physical games so far and we shall see if that carries over.
First period, 14:58: Not much action yet in Toronto. Both teams look like they're trying to find their legs after both playing last night.
The one line that has looked energetic is once again the fourth line.
First period, 18:21: The Bruins are surprisingly wearing their black third jerseys with the Leafs wearing their white third jerseys.
First period, 19:50: Underway at the ACC in Toronto. Should be interesting to see if we see a different Leafs team on home ice.
7:03 p.m.: Adam McQuaid is not even listed on the Bruins roster on their official website. Hopefully there is no lineup snafu such as the one the Montreal Canadiens found themselves in two weeks ago!
6:55 p.m.: Almost ready for faceoff in Toronto where Adam McQuaid will play in his first NHL game tonight. McQuaid will replace the injured (undisclosed injury) Derek Morris.
McQuaid had three goals and seven assists in 29 games played with the Providence Bruins (AHL) this season. He will be paired with fellow Providence call-up Andy Wozniewski. Here's what the defense should look like:
Zdeno Chara–Matt Hunwick
Andrew Ference–Johnny Boychuk
Andy Wozniewski–Adam McQuaid
5:00 p.m.: The Bruins (16-10-7, 39 points) are at the ACC Centre in Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs (12-16-7, 31 points) for the third time this season. The Bruins have had the way with the leafs in their first two meetings beating Toronto 7-2 on December 5 and then 5-2 on December 10.
Former Bruins sniper Phil Kessel was held scoreless in both games and his words played the "worst" game of his young career in the 7-2 loss. Kessel heard it from the Boston fans throughout both games at the TD Garden, but now he has the Leafs fans behind him at the ACC, so it should be interesting to see if we see a different Phil Kessel on home ice.
The Bruins come into Toronto on the heels of a tough 5-4 shootout loss in Chicago, where all things considered (a banged-up defense and numerous mental lapses), they stole a point in the standings. The two positives on Friday were that with the exception of the shootout, Tim Thomas (40 saves) seemed to be closer to finding his Vezina Trophy form from last season and the offense awoke from their recent slumber, exploding for four goals against a very good Chicago defense and goaltender in Antti Niemi.
The Maple Leafs meanwhile have been shelled in their last two games, the latest loss coming last night in Buffalo where they dropped a 5-2 decision to the Northeast Division leading Sabres. Vesa Toskala was shaky between the pipes for Toronto so expect "The Monster" Jonas Gustavsson between the pipes for the Leafs. Gustavsson is 6-5-5 with a 3.11 GAA and .901 save-percentage. He recently had heart surgery to correct an irregular heartbeat after leaving a game in Montreal December 3 with fatigue and dizziness.
The Bruins are expected to give Tuukka Rask his third straight start against Toronto. Rask is s 9-2-2 with a 1.97 GAA, .932 save percentage and one shutout.
Here's the expected lineup for both teams:
Marco Sturm–Marc Savard–Michael Ryder
Daniel Paille-Patrice Bergeron-Mark Recchi
Blake Wheeler–David Krejci–Byron Bitz
Steve Begin–Vladimir Sobotka–Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara–Derek Morris
Andy Wozniewski/Adam McQuaid–Andrew Ference
Matt Hunwick–Johnny Boychuk
Alexei Ponikarovsky–Matt Stajan–Phil Kessel
Jason Blake–Mikhail Grabovski–Niklas Hagman
Nikolai Kulemin–Wayne Primeau–Lee Stempniak
Christian Hanson–Jamal Mayers–Tim Brent
Tomas Kaberle–Mike Komisarek
Francois Beauchemin–Jeff Finger
Ian White–Luke Schenn