The Maple Leafs will be bigger and faster than the past two times the Boston Bruins cleaned their clocks, but still won’t have James Reimer in goal for this week’s home-and-home series with first place on the line in the Northeast.
With the set starting Wednesday at the Air Canada Centre, coach Ron Wilson said the rapidly improving Reimer will get as close to the action as the Leaf bench on Saturday’s return visit, but not play in either match. Jonas Gustavsson gets the start, with the hot Leafs supporting him to the tune of 22 regulation goals in his past four games, with Ben Scrivens likely to be demoted later in the week.
“After (Saturday), we’ll decide,” Wilson said of Reimer, which would point to Monday’s game in New York against the Rangers for Reimer to return from an Oct. 22 head injury.
With the addition of Joe Colborne to the Leafs’ mix since Boston hammered Toronto by 6-2 and 7-0 scores in the schedule’s first 14 games, the Leafs will be on more equal terms in that respect, especially if another 6-foot-5 behemoth, Keith Aulie plays again. Aulie might start for Carl Gunnarsson, who is day-to-day with a finger injury. The Leafs could be without big fourth-line centre David Steckel, the odd man out at Tuesday’s practice, also coming back from a shot block injury.
“(Size) is important,” Wilson said. “Keith only played the one game (Sunday in Anaheim), but it was good for his confidence and he’s another big body on the back end (with Cody Franson and Luke Schenn).
“Joe has played well since he was called up, he’s used his body (to protect pucks), he has been physical and you’ve seen the offensive potential he has. He hasn’t necessarily played a lot, 11 or 12 minutes, but tommorrow I think he’ll be especially motivated because he was drafted by the Bruins.”
Together with fellow rookie Matt Frattin and Joey Crabb, the ‘Kid’ Line has added some dash to an already speedy Toronto attack. But the Cup champion Bruins have a record of 11-0-1 coming in, a far cry from the slumping teams the Leafs have faced the past five games, four of which they won.
“I think at the start of the year, we didn’t realize teams were using us as a measuring stick,” Boston winger Rich Peverley told QMI in a phone interview on Tuesday. “That challenged us as a group.”
Though both Phil Kessel and Tyler Seguin are sick of people analyzing the two-year-old trade between the clubs, both enter the game leading their respective clubs in scoring. Kessel is clinging to the NHL lead with 31 points prior to Tuesday’s games, while Seguin has 23 in 22 starts.
Right winger Colton Orr missed Tuesday’s workout with a personal issue according to Wilson, while right winger Colby Armstrong tested his severe ankle sprain in a solo practice. Armstrong has missed 19 games, right after the Leafs started the year 4-0-1.