Rielly set for Bru­ins chal­lenge

National Post (National Edition) - - SPORTS - Terry Koshan tkoshan@post­media.com

The bet­ting is that Mor­gan Rielly, who led the Toronto Maple Leafs in ice time through 15 games, sees plenty of the Bru­ins’ top line of Pa­trice Berg­eron, Brad Marc­hand and David Pas­tr­nak when the two At­lantic Divi­sion ri­vals re­new hos­til­i­ties on Sat­ur­day in Bos­ton.

Few in the NHL are bet­ter than Marc­hand at turn­ing the screw, ei­ther by scor­ing or ag­i­tat­ing, and he will be look­ing to build off 30 points in 36 ca­reer games against Toronto. Still, Rielly, who is av­er­ag­ing 22 min­utes and 30 sec­onds a game, is not the kind to get flus­tered.

Here are 5 Things to Watch for Sat­ur­day in Bos­ton:

The Maple Leafs, and specif­i­cally de­fence­man Jake Gar­diner, prob­a­bly would like to have some se­lec­tive mem­ory. The Leafs make their first visit to Bos­ton since April 25, when the Bru­ins scored four goals in the third pe­riod of Game 7 in the first round to beat the Leafs 7-4 and send them home. Gar­diner, un­fairly, was the scape­goat for some as he was mi­nus-5 in the game. The Leafs have moved on from the re­sult, but you can bet it will be on the minds of some.

With Tuukka Rask granted a leave of ab­sence for per­sonal rea­sons, the Leafs will get a look at Bru­ins backup goalie Jaroslav Halak. In 16 ca­reer games against Toronto, Halak has lost just three times in reg­u­la­tion, com­pil­ing a mark of 8-3-4 with a .909 save per­cent­age and a 2.94 goals-against aver­age. Fac­ing Halak should not be seen as an ad­van­tage, as he has been sharp in nine games this sea­son (though not against Van­cou­ver on Thurs­day), post­ing a .936 save per­cent­age with just one loss in reg­u­la­tion.

Could this be a game where the Maple Leafs’ power play tilts the scale to­ward a Toronto vic­tory? The Bru­ins have been strong de­fen­sively dur­ing 5-on-5 play, al­low­ing 21 goals, the sec­ond fewest in the NHL. De­spite the pres­ence of 6-foot-9 Zdeno Chara and Pa­trice Berg­eron on the penalty kill, Bos­ton has not been stel­lar, al­low­ing 11 power-play goals on 49 op­po­si­tion chances. At the same time, the Bru­ins, led by Berg­eron, are one of the NHL’s top power-play clubs.

When­ever the Leafs and Bru­ins have met in high­in­ten­sity games — or any time dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son — Pa­trice Berg­eron has been a fac­tor. Whether it’s Nazem Kadri or John Tavares who gets the matchup, the Leafs cen­tre will have to pay at­ten­tion to ev­ery lit­tle de­tail when Berg­eron is on the ice. Con­tain­ing Berg­eron, who has 59 points in 64 ca­reer games against the Leafs, is among the NHL’s great­est chal­lenges.

Be­fore the Leafs played host to the New Jersey Devils on Fri­day night, coach Mike Bab­cock was laud­ing the play of the third line, Par Lind­holm be­tween An­dreas Johns­son and Con­nor Brown. As the Leafs try to ex­tend a sea­son-open­ing road win­ning streak to seven games — some­thing that is be­lieved not to have been done by the team since the 1940-41 sea­son — the depth pro­vided by the Leafs’ third line might have to make greater of­fen­sive con­tri­bu­tions.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.