TORONTO, ON - Prior to the B’s hitting the ice for morning skate at Air Canada Centre this morning, Toronto Head Coach Randy Carlyle put the Maple Leafs’ through their own pregame paces.
Some familiar faces, as Phil Kessel skated alongside center Tyler Bozak during line rushes (new Leaf James van Riemsdyk flanking the other wing). Toronto’s younger talent (and up-and-down AHLers last season with the Marlies) has really come up big for them as of late, with Matt Frattin scoring four games in four games, including two game-winners, one coming with only 1.5 seconds left in OT.
Frattin’s four goals come on just seven shots, while Kessel is still searching for his first, having taken 33 shots without hitting the back of the net (Brad Marchand is second in the league behind Frattin for shooting percentage, converting 5 of his 10 shots into goals so far this season.)
“It’s going to be a high intense game. They’re a hard hitting team, a hard physical team, we play that way too, we’ve been playing that way all year, just keep doing what we’ve been doing,” said Frattin following the Leafs’ morning skate.
“It’s just playing 60 minutes. That’s what we got to do. Any team in this league, if you give them an opportunity they could definitely put it in the back of the net, so if we keep it simple we’ll be fine.”
Going against the Bruins seems to always bring out the best in teams, as we’ve seen to start the season - despite the B’s strong 5-1-1 start, the games have been hard-fought.
“If you look down the lineup, they’ve got a lot of guys that finish checks and get in on the forecheck hard, pound you,” said Tyler Bozak and what makes the Black & Gold so tough to play against. “They make good plays, they’re a pretty deep team throughout their lineup.”
As for the Toronto lineup, here’s what lines and defensive pairings looked like during their morning skate:
James van Riemsdyk-Tyler Bozak-Phil Kessel
-Jay McClement-Mikhail Grabovski*-Niikolai Kulemin
Matt Frattin-Nazem Kadri-Leo Komarov
Ryan Hamilton-David Steckel-Colton Orr
Dion Phaneuf-Michael Kostka
John-Michael Liles-Carl Gunnarsson
Mark Fraser-Cody Franson
Mike Komisarek (not in lineup last game)
*Grabovski leads all Toronto players in career goals (13) and points (16) in 27 games against Boston, and has the most career goals against Boston than any other NHL club.
**According to line rushes, it looked as though McLaren might be the scratch tonight - but Randy Carlyle told the media contingent this morning that the lineup would be different tonight: “We didn’t take [McLaren] on waivers to sit him in the stands”