The Bruins and Leafs will meet for the fourth time this season and second time in a row on Saturday at the Garden.
The Bruins won the first three meetings by a combined score of 19-5, but this clash could be a little different. Toronto will have No. 1 goalie James Reimer back in goal.
Reimer has missed the last 18 games after being hit in the head at the top of his crease by Montreal’s Brian Gionta on Oct. 22, but has been cleared to play and will make his return Saturday in Boston.
Reimer was 4-0-1 with a 2.58 GAA and a .912 save percentage this season before his injury. More importantly, he’s 3-1-0 with a 2.46 GAA and .930 save percentage in his career against Boston. Jonas Gustavsson, who took over as the Leafs starter, was 0-2-0 with a 5.44 GAA and an .852 save percentage against the Bruins this year, allowing 13 goals in 143 minutes. Ben Scrivens also took the loss in his only appearance against Boston, posting an 8.52 GAA and .644 save percentage as he allowed five goals on 14 shots in 35 minutes before being pulled.
Needless to say, if Reimer returns to his pre-injury form, the Leafs will present a far greater challenge to the Bruins this time around.
The Bruins have some pretty good goaltending of their own. Tim Thomas was the first goalie off the ice at the morning skate and is expected to get the start. Thomas was named the NHL’s No. 1 Star for November after going 9-0-0 with a 1.76 GAA and a .941 save percentage in the month. The nine-game win streak is the longest of his career, and he’s gone 3-0-0 with a 1.67 GAA and .944 save percentage against the Leafs this season.
Forward Jordan Caron and defenseman Steven Kampfer remained in Providence on Saturday. They are expected to return to Boston for the Bruins’ upcoming road trip, which starts Monday in Pittsburgh. But they are not with the team on Saturday and the Bruins will not have any scratches for this game, with just the minimum 20 men who will dress currently on the roster.
The Leafs will have several extra bodies on hand. In addition to Scrivens, Toronto is expected to scratch former Bruins tough guy Colton Orr, who has played just four games this year, and Philippe Dupuis up front, while Cody Franson is expected to return on defense with Keith Aulie sitting out.
That’s in addition to Toronto’s long list of injuries, with Colby Armstrong (ankle), Mike Brown (lower body), Mike Komisarek (broken arm) and Matthew Lombardi (shoulder) all on injured reserve.
Francis Charron and Brad Watson will be the referees, with Michel Cormier and Derek Nansen working the lines.
Projected Bruins lines
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Tyler Seguin
Benoit Pouliot-Chris Kelly-Rich Peverley
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg-Joe Corvo
Andrew Ference-Adam McQuaid
Projected Maple Leafs lines
Joffrey Lupul-Tyler Bozak-Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur-Tim Connolly-Nikolai Kulemin
Joey Crabb-Joe Colborne-Matt Frattin
Jay Rosehill-Mikhail Grabovski-David Steckel
Carl Gunnarson-Dion Phaneuf
Jake Gardiner-Luke Schenn
John-Michael Liles-Cody Franson
Scratches: Philippe Dupuis, Colton Orr, Keith Aulie, Ben Scrivens