The Phil Kessel trade to the Maple Leafs from Boston has been a heated topic of debate for both teams all season long. You’ve got Bruins fans insisting they didn’t need Kessel to win games ranging to Leafs fans saying they don’t care about the first round pick the team gave up to get him. As the teams square off tonight for the final time this season, it stands to reason that both teams could end up being big winners and losers in the end.
For Boston, it’s clear that they miss Kessel’s offensive ability more than anything. Patrice Bergeron is the team’s leading scorer with 50 points, meanwhile Kessel is the Leafs top man with 55 points including 30 goals. The Bruins may not know that Kessel has been that good for the Leafs this year because in their five games head-to-head Kessel has been held to just one assist.
As for the first round pick, many Bruins fans have visions of a top three pick but with Toronto firmly in the role of spoiler, the Leafs have played better of late winning six of their last nine. While their final four games come against Eastern teams looking to get in the playoffs, the Leafs are in a spot where closing out the season in a big way could conceivably put them closer to 10th in the draft rather than 2nd overall and thus making Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli a bit less excited.
Do the Bruins miss Kessel’s offense? In a huge way, yes. While Patrice Bergeron has had a bit of a resurgence this year, I’d bet the Bruins would love to have a 30 goal scorer right about now as they try to secure a spot in the playoffs. While the playoffs is the goal for the Bruins, it would look pretty awful if they missed out because they just didn’t have enough offense to get there and their top goal scorer from a year ago is playing for someone else because the team opted to not pay him while wasting money on other failed projects (hello Derek Morris).
The other side of this though is how ugly would things look in Toronto without Phil Kessel? Kessel has been their lone offensive go-to guy and one check at their current roster’s stats says that the Leafs would be Edmonton Oilers kind of bad if they didn’t get Kessel.
Alexei Emelin has been in and out of the Montreal Canadiens lineup, but this wasn’t the way they wanted him to keep his legs fresh.
The hard-hitting defenseman received a game misconduct and five-minute major penalty for a late hit on Columbus Blue Jackets forward Matt Calvert on Tuesday.
So far, it sounds like Calvert may be OK.
You can see video of that hit above, as well as a GIF of the infraction via My Regular Face.
Many believe that Emelin should not have been ejected.
Injuries have been a regular problem for Joffrey Lupul for much of his time with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and it doesn’t look like that’s changing in 2015-16.
The team placed him on injured reserve retroactive to Nov. 28, calling up Rich Clune in the process.
This IR stint means that Lupul will miss at least three games for Toronto.
From the sound of things, it’s a nagging issue, as NHL.com notes.
“He’s been having the same problem here for a bit,” Mike Babcock told media members on Sunday. “He doesn’t seem to be getting the power back that they thought, so we’re just trying to monitor it the best we can.”
Leafs Nation points out that Lupul has missed about one-third of Toronto’s contests since suffering a separated shoulder in April 2012.
At 32, there’s still time for Lupul to fight through this, although injuries generally accumulate with age.
Will Ryan Suter say something foolish during tonight’s game? Is Brent Burns‘ beard so long that it’s finally starting to scrape the ice?
We’ll find out the answer to those questions and more during Tuesday’s NBCSN doubleheader.
Need to follow the two games online? Never fear.
Game 1: Minnesota Wild at Chicago Blackhawks
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Game 2: Pittsburgh Penguins at San Jose Sharks
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Message sent or not via healthy scratches or not, Dave Bolland returns to the Florida Panthers mix on Tuesday.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, it’s maybe not under the most ideal circumstances, as part of the explanation for his return is Nick Bjugstad‘s absence.
The Miami Herald’s George Richards reports that Bjugstad is out tonight against the St. Louis Blues with an upper-body injury that he suffered during a Monday practice.
In fact, as you can see in the tweet above, the young forward was sent home because of the injury.
This forces some shuffling, with Vincent Trocheck moving up to the second line while Bolland centers the third combo as usual.
The Panthers are currently on a two-game winning streak and visit St. Louis as the second date in a five-game road trip.
This is also the early part of a span in which they play nine of 10 games on the road (counting Sunday’s away win), so a prolonged absence from Bjugstad could sting that much more.