Lost in Tuesday morning's excitement of the Mikhail Grabovski deal was the fact that the team is in a dogfight to get into the playoffs.
Add to that new coach Randy Carlyle's Air Canada Centre debut against an opponent that has had Toronto’s number all season.
The Grabovski five-year deal, reported to be worth in the neighbourhood of $27.5 million US, was front and centre at the ACC in the morning, but it will be the Boston Bruins who garner all the attention when the puck drops Tuesday night.
The Bruins (38-23-3) have won all four contests against the Leafs this season and have outscored them 23-6. Those are pretty daunting circumstances for Carlyle's home debut.
“If nostalgia means ‘nervous’ then I guess it would apply here,” Carlyle said after the morning skate when asked if he was feeling at all nostalgic about being behind the bench of the team he started his NHL playing career with.
“Obviously, this is centre stage of the hockey universe and it’s the first opportunity for me to step behind the bench of the Toronto Maple Leafs in our own building. It’s an event in your life and not many people get to do this, so I’m very, very fortunate to be in this situation.”
The Leafs (30-28-7) will be looking to build on Carlyle’s successful debut with the team in Montreal, where they won 3-1. It was only the Leafs’ second win in 12 games and another victory on Tuesday would help get them moving in the right direction as they try to climb out of 12th spot in the East.
Winnipeg, in eighth spot, has 72 points, five more than Toronto, but the Leafs have two games in hand. Of course, there is also Buffalo, Tampa Bay and Washington to climb above too.
“We’re playing against the Stanley Cup champions (the Bruins). We know what kind of hockey club they are, we know the record that we have had against them as a hockey team and that, to some degree, is embarrassing.”
To help get them where they want to go, the Leafs have reinstated tough guy Jay Rosehill for the game. Rosehill was recalled from the Marlies and cleared waivers at noon on Monday.
Scrappy forward Mike Brown will not play because of a hand injury and defenceman John-Michael Liles will be a game-time decision due to flu-like symptoms. He did not participate in the morning skate.
Joey Crabb will be a healthy scratch, so that means the fourth line will likely consist of Rosehill, Matthew Lombardi and either Colby Armstrong or David Steckel.
Jonas Gustavsson will get his third straight start in net.