Maple Leafs-Bruins Preview
It has been more than two months since the Boston Bruins won a home game, and if they can't win one Thursday, it will be at least two more weeks before they finally do.
A visit from the Toronto Maple Leafs may be just the fix.
A loss to the lowly Leafs would match the longest home losing streak in Bruins history at 11, but Boston will be happy to face the Eastern Conference's last-place club, which has dropped six in a row on the road.
After losing 10 straight overall from Jan. 16-Feb. 6, Boston (27-23-11) seemed to have righted the ship with four straight wins on the road going into the Olympic break.
But the Bruins emerged from the two-week hiatus with a 4-1 home loss to Montreal on Tuesday night, leading for most of the game before allowing four goals in the last 10 minutes.
"You could tell we hadn't played in a couple of weeks," said Bruins coach Claude Julien, whose team begins a seven-game road trip Saturday.
Boston's 10-game home skid is one shy of the club record set in the Bruins' inaugural season of 1924-25, and it dates back to a 2-1 win Jan. 1 over Philadelphia in the Winter Classic at Fenway Park.
The primary culprit has been a lack of offense, with the team held to two or fewer goals in all 10 defeats.
The Bruins didn't add any forwards before Wednesday's trade deadline, although they're hoping the acquisition of defenseman Dennis Seidenberg will help. After trading defenseman Derek Morris to Phoenix, Boston made a deal with Florida to add Seidenberg, who has 23 points and an NHL-best 179 blocked shots in 62 games.
"I know we have to score more, but sometimes scoring more comes from an improved back end," Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli told his team's official Web site.
Seidenberg played for Germany in the Olympics alongside Boston forward Marco Sturm, who scored the lone goal Tuesday.
One reason for Boston's sluggish offense this season was the departure of Phil Kessel, who led the team with 36 goals in 2008-09 but was traded to Toronto in September after the Bruins could not strike a deal with the young U.S. Olympian.
Kessel has not helped turn the Leafs (19-32-11) into an immediate contender - much to the delight of Boston, which holds Toronto's first- and second-round picks for this summer's draft, as well as its first-round pick in 2011.
Boston, hoping the acquired draft pick from Toronto ends up as the first overall, will try to hand the Leafs a fourth straight loss. Toronto came out of the break with a 5-1 home loss to Carolina.
"We had a whole week to get ready and I can be the first to blame for that," said goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who was acquired from Anaheim on Jan. 31. Giguere had shutouts in his first two starts with the Leafs but has since dropped three in a row, allowing 12 goals.
Toronto has been particularly bad on the road, going 2-13-2 there since early December - a stretch that started with two losses in Boston by a combined 12-4 score. Kessel was enthusiastically booed at the TD Garden.
The Bruins had won seven straight against their Northeast Division rivals before losing 2-0 at Toronto on Dec. 19.
Goalie Tuukka Rask, who was traded to Boston in 2006 by the Leafs, has started all three of Boston's games against Toronto this season and seven straight overall for Boston, going 4-1-2 with a 2.18 goals-against average.