Phil Kessel v. Bruins: Final Showdown

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 to1-kessel.jpg 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.

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    Sabres place Lehner on IR; Recall Lieuwen

    Connor Brown, Robin Lehner
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    They’re just one game into their regular season, but the Buffalo Sabres have already had to shift things around in their crease.

    The Sabres announced that they have placed starting goaltender Robin Lehner on injured reserve after he was knocked out of Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury.

    In a corresponding move, the club has recalled Nathan Lieuwen from their AHL affiliate in Rochester.

    The 24-year-old didn’t play in the NHL last season, but he did have a 1-4-0 record with a 2.98 goals-against-average and a .906 save percentage in seven games during the 2013-14 season.

    Lieuwen was Buffalo’s sixth round pick, 167th overall, in the 2011 draft.

    The Sabres also announced that they have loaned defenseman Jake McCabe and goaltender Linus Ullmark to the Rochester Americans (AHL).

    McCabe was a healthy scratch in Thursday’s game against Ottawa, while Ullmark is being activated off I.R. after having double hip surgery during the off-season.



    Chara ‘doubtful’ for game against rival Canadiens

    Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara
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    It looks like the Boston Bruins will be without their captain again on Saturday night.

    Head coach Claude Julien told members of the media that Zdeno Chara is considered doubtful for tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.

    Chara suffered an upper-body injury during the preseason and he’s already been forced to miss Boston’s season opening loss to the Jets.

    Per CSN, Chara says he’s improving but he won’t return to the lineup until he’s as close to 100 percent as possible.

    “Every area of the injury is improving,” said Chara. “Hopefully it’s not long before I’m free of any kind of discomfort. That’s what we’re doing right now…we’re being patient. For sure you don’t want to come back, and be half of what you are…and basically hurting yourself and the team. And you’re putting yourself in a position where you could be missing more time. At this time of the season, I think it’s important to be as close as you can be to 100 percent.”

    Based on the number of defensive mistakes they committed on Thursday, the Bruins need Chara back as soon as possible: