On their last trip to Toronto, they came away with a resounding 7-0 whitewash of the hosts. Since Claude Julien took over behind the Bruins bench in 2007, Boston is 18-5-5 against their Original Six rivals from Ontario.
But those results haven't given the Bruins any false sense of security going into a pivotal home-and-home series with the Leafs that opens Wednesday in Toronto. The Bruins know they can't afford to take the Leafs lightly. Not when Toronto is still a point ahead of them in the Northeast Division standings. And especially not with Toronto sure to be seeking revenge for those two blowout losses earlier this season.
"It's not something you forget when you're on the receiving side," Julien said after practice Tuesday before the club departed for Toronto. "So I don't think it's going to be a hard game for them to get motivated for. We've just got to be ready for that. I keep saying the same thing, when we focus on ourselves and do the things we have to do, we're a lot better than when we worry about what's going to happen."
As always, the Bruins will try to stay focused on perfecting their own game, but they're also very aware that this is a much improved Toronto team over the squads that have failed to make the playoffs every year since the owners' lockout in 2004-05. Add in having first place in the division on the line in Wednesday's clash and the rematch Saturday in Boston should be hotly contested.
"It's a divisional game and it seems like we're kind of flip-flopping back and forth for that top spot in our division," Bruins center Gregory Campbell said. "With the history of these two teams, the trades that have gone on and whatnot, there's a little bit more of a building rivalry. They've done a great job in Toronto. They've built a young team and they're playing extremely well right now. I don't think it's a team where they're going to fade. They're going to be competing with us all year and it's a team that you definitely have to take seriously."
The biggest of those trades came just before the start of the 2009-10 season, when the Bruins shipped Phil Kessel to Toronto for two first-round picks and a second. Kessel leads the NHL in scoring this year with 16-15-31 totals, but hasn't fared well against his old club with 2-4-6 totals in 14 games, including no points in the first two meetings this year.
The first of the picks acquired for Kessel was used to select Tyler Seguin, who has had no such trouble scoring against the Leafs. Seguin has 5-3-8 totals in eight games against Toronto, including his first NHL hat trick earlier this month in the 7-0 win at the Air Canada Centre.
Seguin, a Brampton, Ontario native who always has plenty of friends and family on hand when the Bruins visit Toronto, expects to face a tougher test this time around.
"We expect a quick team, they have a really fast offense," Seguin said. "In the neutral zone we really have to get pucks out quick against these guys, get it in deep and try to take it to them. We know with the scores from the last couple of games against them they're going to want some revenge on us in their own barn, so we're going to be expecting a good game."