Maple Leafs-Bruins Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated October 20, 2011
Phil Kessel is tired of talking about how he struggles against the Boston Bruins. He's certainly doing just fine for the red-hot Toronto Maple Leafs this season. The NHL's top scorer, Kessel looks to continue his torrid start Thursday night when the Maple Leafs open a four-game trip against his former club. Kessel spent his first three seasons in Boston (2-4-0), and led the Bruins with a career-high 36 goals in 2008-09 before being acquired by Toronto (4-0-1). He's struggled to show that scoring punch for the Leafs when facing the Bruins, notching two goals and four assists in 12 meetings. That's one reason he continues to be a focal point when Toronto faces its Original Six rival. "It gets old when you guys ask all the time," Kessel said. "You know, it's a couple years ago. I don't get jitters any more. Going back that first year I was a little nervous. "They're a great team and we're going to have to battle hard to win." Kessel's outstanding start to the season may have him poised for a strong showing in Boston this time. The right wing leads the league with seven goals and 12 points, helping the Maple Leafs earn nine of a possible 10 points during a season-opening five-game homestand. He continued that run with a goal and two assists in a 4-3 shootout win over Winnipeg on Wednesday. Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson sees a change in Kessel, who is known for going on impressive streaks only to follow them with long dry spells. He had seven goals and two assists through the first eight games last season, but then went without a point in the next seven. "Only time will tell if he finds a way to be more consistent," Wilson said. "But I don't see any holes in his game right now. He's backchecking, forechecking, making good decisions with the puck and staying on top of things. He wants the puck all the time, he's demanding it and he's getting it. That's the big thing." Despite his overall struggles against the Bruins, Kessel had five points in the last three meetings as the Maple Leafs won four of six in 2010-11, including 2-1-0 at Boston. Kessel isn't the only Toronto player scoring with regularity. Joffrey Lupul has four goals and three assists after scoring a pair of goals in regulation before converting again in the shootout Wednesday. Lupul had two goals and an assist in a 4-3 shootout win at Boston on March 31. While the Leafs are off to a surprising start, the Bruins are showing signs of frustration. They've dropped three of four, and totaled 72 penalty minutes in Tuesday's 4-1 loss to Carolina to begin a four-game homestand. Even coach Claude Julien was issued a game misconduct for arguing with officials with 3:44 to play. "What I see is frustration setting in and the minute we start getting frustrated we lose focus of our game and then it gets worse and worse," Julien told the team's official website. "And that's been a bit of a pattern this year." Tim Thomas, 2-2-0 with a 1.98 goals-against average, could be back in net after Tuukka Rask lost his second consecutive start with a 19-save performance Tuesday. Thomas, though, has lost his last four meetings with Toronto behind a 3.29 GAA, while Rask - a first-round pick of the Leafs in 2005 - is 5-1-0 with a 1.76 GAA in seven matchups.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Penguins win Stanley Cup Final Game 1 despite going 37 minutes without a shot on goal

NHL won’t participate in 2018 Winter Olympics, cites hypocritical reason for not playing

NFLPA to rookies: Be like Gronkowski, Beckham Jr.

Tiger Woods arrested on DUI charges

Bryce Alford defends Lonzo Ball: He 'doesn't deserve' criticism

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Clippers ‘overwhelming favorite’ to keep Chris Paul

Giants owner: Signing Kaepernick would anger fans

Mike Trout to undergo MRI after suffering thumb injury

Report: ‘Multiple’ teams open to giving Nerlens Noel max contract

John Wall: Bench was cause of Wizards’ ‘downfall’

Arum says Pacquiao would fight McGregor if Mayweather won't

The 'Hope your Cup runneth over this Memorial Day' quiz

Meet your Stanley Cup finalists: Nashville Predators

Getaway Day: There's a murderer's row in the NL West

Journey to the Stanley Cup Final: Pittsburgh Penguins

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

Why the Indianapolis 500 is called 'the greatest spectacle in racing'

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Box Score 5/26: Bring on the Finals

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 'Hope your Cup runneth over this Memorial Day' quiz

Meet your Stanley Cup finalists: Nashville Predators

Getaway Day: There's a murderer's row in the NL West

Journey to the Stanley Cup Final: Pittsburgh Penguins

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker