After having to move past the Johnny Boychuk trade that occurred just four days before the season, the Boston Bruins have now learned they’ll spend an extended stretch without their top defenseman.
The Toronto Maple Leafs, meanwhile, are happy just to get back on the ice.
The visiting Bruins hope to continue the success they’ve had over the past three seasons against the rival Maple Leafs on Saturday night when they play their first game without injured All-Star Zdeno Chara.
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Boston (4-5-0) moved Boychuk in a trade to the New York Islanders on Oct. 4 for salary-cap reasons, leaving a hole in a unit that ranked second at 2.09 goals-against per game last season.
The Bruins then suffered an even bigger loss Thursday when Chara left a 3-2 home loss to the Islanders in the first period, one shift after a collision with New York forward John Tavares.
Chara, a six-time Norris Trophy Finalist, tore the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee but will not need surgery. The 6-foot-9 captain, however, is expected to miss at least four weeks.
”When you lose your captain and one of your better defensemen, there’s no doubt it’s going to have an effect on your team,” coach Claude Julien said. ”You’re going to lose guys during the season; those things happen. How you react to it and how you respond is what’s important.”
The Bruins, who are also missing defenseman Kevan Miller due to a shoulder injury, rank near the top of the league with 27.2 shots allowed per game. However, they’ve given up 34.7 in their last three.
Toronto’s Phil Kessel had two goals with an assist in Tuesday’s 5-2 road win over the Islanders that ended a two-game losing streak, giving him four goals and eight points in his last five games.
The former Bruin also had five assists in the last two games versus Boston last season.
The Maple Leafs (3-3-1) were scheduled to play the Senators on Wednesday, but the game was postponed after they were locked down in their hotel rooms during the shootings that took place at Ottawa’s war memorial and Parliament.
The Senators, Montreal Canadiens and Maple Leafs will hold coordinated tributes before their games Saturday to honor the Canadian soldiers who lost their lives.
”The troops are at every game and hopefully we’ll be able to do something a little special," forward Joffrey Lupul said.
Tyler Bozak hasn’t scored for Toronto since opening the season with a goal in each of the first three games, but he’s found the back of the net four times in his last three meetings with the Bruins.
Boston totaled 13 goals over a three-game stretch before Chris Kelly and Milan Lucic provided the only tallies Thursday. Kelly has produced a point in each of his last five games, totaling a goal and five assists.
Patrice Bergeron has a seven-game goal-scoring drought, but he’s scored seven times in his last five meetings with the Maple Leafs. That includes his tying and winning goals in Game 7 of the 2013 playoffs when the Bruins rallied from a 4-1 third-period deficit for a 5-4 win to advance to the second round.
Including that series, Boston has gone 15-5-1 while outscoring Toronto 80-46 since the start of the 2011-12 season. The Bruins went 2-1-1 in last season’s series after the Maple Leafs won the final two meetings.