Bruins-Maple Leafs Preview
Toronto can certainly sympathize with Boston's five-game losing streak. If it continues to grow, Boston will soon sympathize with Toronto's postseason plans.
The Bruins head to Toronto on Saturday night, and it's the Maple Leafs looking like a playoff team with a four-game winning streak in mind.
Thursday's 4-1 home loss to Florida handed Boston (39-28-8) its longest losing streak of the season and matched its longest regulation skid since ending 2006-07 with six straight. The Bruins now head out on a four-game trip that'll also take them to New Jersey, St. Louis and Chicago before returning home for their last three.
Boston currently owns the No. 3 seed in the Atlantic Division, but it's only a point ahead of Detroit for that spot and also one ahead of Philadelphia for the final Eastern Conference wild card.
It's quite a turn from the preceding seven-game point streak, and the Bruins' stellar road record (23-11-3) has also taken a hit with a season-worst four-game skid.
"You worry about the next game," coach Claude Julien told the team's official website. "That's what you do. Right now we're not worrying about anything else. Panicking will certainly not help the situation.
"We're still in that playoff position. I keep saying we're in control of our own destiny, so, you know, if you panic, you're not going to gain what you want to gain, and if you stay in the moment and try and fix things and try and get better, then you've got a chance."
The Bruins have scored six goals on the skid, but it's difficult to simply blame scoring. They've given up 18 and three of the defeats have come by at least three goals.
Ryan Spooner at least gave them a lead against the Panthers - their first since entering the second period of a 3-2 loss in San Jose on March 15 that started the mess.
As for their top scorers, points leader Patrice Bergeron has been limited to an assist in his last six games, while leading goal scorer Brad Marchand has been limited to an assist in his last seven.
"I think you have to be a professional and realize that you've got to be at your best," said Bergeron, who has 10 goals and 10 assists in his last 15 games against the Maple Leafs. "Right now, (that's) all we can really control, and we're not playing well, so we've got to be better."
Boston is 16-3-3 in the series dating to the start of 2011-12 and 3-0-1 this season, though its coming off a 4-3 home overtime loss to the Maple Leafs on Feb. 2.
That ended a four-game skid for Toronto (27-35-11) and began to foreshadow the offense that would come. The Maple Leafs are seeking their first four-game win streak since a six-game run Dec. 6-16, 2014, and the three wins have come with 15 goals scored.
Thursday's 6-5 overtime win against Anaheim has the Maple Leafs at 4-1-0 heading into the finale of a six-game homestand.
Nazem Kadri had two goals and two assists, including the overtime winner, though it followed a six-game point drought. Even so, his evolution has been evident in the dressing room.
"It's been fun to watch him grow and become better," said Tyler Bozak, who also scored twice and has four points in his last three games. "And I know he's still got a lot of room to get better, too."
He'll most likely try to continue it against Tuukka Rask, who is 0-3-0 with a 3.07 goals-against average and .889 save percentage over his last four games.
Likely counterpart Jonathan Bernier has a 1.27 GAA and .958 save percentage over a 3-1-0 span, but he's 3-4-0 with 3.57 and .896 marks in eight career games against the Bruins.