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Bruins, Maple Leafs thrilled for rematch of Atlantic Division top teams

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Mark Lewis
Publish Date: 14/01/2023
Video: Bruins @ Maple Leafs 11/5 | NHL Highlights 2022

Bruins @ Maple Leafs 11/5 | NHL Highlights 2022

At the midway point of the NHL season, the Boston Bruins have lost five games in regulation.

After their close match last November, the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs are thrilled for their upcoming rematch. The two giants will finally get the chance to settle the score at TD Garden this Saturday at 7 PM ET.

After losing only five games halfway through the season, the Bruins have the opportunity to match against one of their most challenging competitors once again. Late last year, the Bruins lost 2-1 against the Maple Leafs in a tense match between two of the Atlantic Division’s best teams.

However, Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe asserted that the result of the rematch is already clear.

“They’re playing at a pace that’s the highest winning percentage in the history of the NHL,” Keefe said about the Bruins.

“But we would like to make it so that they have to try to maintain that pace or we’re going to be right there. So that’s really it.”

Stiff competition

The Bruins lost five games throughout the halfway period in the season. One of their losses was against the Seattle Kraken, staged at TD Garden last Thursday. It was their first loss at home in the season.

They also lost against the Maple Leafs by 2-1 on November 5, 2022.

However, the Bruins had one of the highest victory percentages in the season. The Atlantic Division team holds a 32-5-4 lead over most of their competitors.

In comparison, the Maple Leafs hold a 26-10-7 lead, nine points behind the Bruins. Keefe acknowledges that the Bruins’ pace has been a historic one, and it is difficult to guarantee the Maple Leafs’ second victory in their rematch.

The Maple Leafs may face further challenges with the potential loss of forward Auston Matthews, who scored 47 points in his 41 games this season. Matthews was not present in two games due to an unknown injury, and he reported being sick on Thursday, according to Keefe.

“It’s not much of a race at this point,” Keefe said.

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Finding chances

Despite stiff competition, the Leafs’ players are not about to waste their chances in their rematch.

“We played them early in the year. It was a good game,” defenseman Mark Giordano said when describing the Bruins.

“They’re a fast team, back and forth sort of game, but it’s going to be an exciting game to play in … If we want to give ourselves a chance of catching them, we’ve got to chip away, chip away, throughout the next bunch of weeks.”

However, chipping away at the Bruins will not be an easy feat. Despite their earlier five losses, the Bruins have yet to lose any consecutive games in the season.

The opportunity for a crack still exists, though. Talk persisted around Boston holding the 2023 Discover NHL Winter Classic on January 2, leading to a 2-1 victory at Fenway Park against the Pittsburgh Penguins. This followed a victory against the Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks on the West Coast with a combined 16-5 score.

The Bruins would later end their game against the Krakens on Thursday with a 3-0 loss. According to Bruins coach Jim Montgomery, mental fatigue was a likely source of the loss.

The mental fatigue from Thursday’s game may still carry over for the Maple Leafs.

“Those are the games you really enjoy playing. It’s going to be tough,” Leafs defenseman Rasmus Sandin said. “But I think we’ll be very, very pumped up for that game.”

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