NHL on NBCSN: Hot Bruins, Leafs continue one of NHL’s oldest battles

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NBCSN will feature a doubleheader for Wednesday Night Rivalry. In the first half of the event, the Toronto Maple Leafs will host the Boston Bruins at 8:00 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

Boston isn’t at 100 percent strength – in fact, the team is nowhere near it. The Bruins have been playing without blueliners David Warsofsky, Kevan Miller, and Zdeno Chara. They got Torey Krug back on Monday, but yesterday the team revealed that David Krejci would miss at least two more contests.

None of that has slowed them down. The Bruins have still cruised to five straight victories to improve to 10-6-0 this season. They’ll look to make it six against a very familiar foe.

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The Maple Leafs faced Boston in the 2013 playoffs in a series that is difficult for any Torontonian to easily forget. Toronto had a 4-1 lead midway through the third period of Game 7 when the Bruins started a comeback run that eliminated the Maple Leafs. Patrice Bergeron netted the game-tying and winning goals in that contest and he’s remained a thorn in Toronto’s side since that contest.

When Boston and Toronto met for the first time this season on Oct. 25, Bergeron had two assists to aid the Bruins in their 4-1 victory. That was also the night Bergeron reached the 500-point milestone and given that he’s taking a four-game point streak into tonight’s contest, it’s fair to say that he remains a series threat for the Maple Leafs.

As does goaltender Tuukka Rask, should the Bruins decide to put him between the pipes tonight. There are few teams he torments more than the Maple Leafs as he’s posted a career 10-2-0 record, 1.59 GAA, and .945 save percentage against them in 14 career regular season contests.

As they always do, the Toronto Maple Leafs will look to Phil Kessel to lead the charge tonight, but while he is typically an imposing player, the Bruins have traditionally done a great job of shutting him down. Since he was traded from Boston to Toronto, Kessel has just three goals, 14 points, and a minus-24 rating in 27 regular season contests against his former squad. He was held off the scoresheet and was minus-two in Toronto’s loss to Boston earlier this season.

The silver lining is that the Leafs’ secondary scorers have stepped up lately. Toronto won back-to-back games over the weekend and its 10 goals over that span were scored by nine different players. If the Maple Leafs display that kind of depth tonight against Boston then the Bruins’ winning streak will be in serious jeopardy.