|Bruins see improvement in Maple Leafs||10.27.10 at 3:57 pm ET|
The Bruins are preparing for their first match-up against the Toronto Maple Leafs Thursday night, in an always-anticipated clash of original six teams. In the 2009-10 season, the Maple Leafs were nothing special, finishing at the bottom of the Northeast Division with a 30-38-14 record. Now, eight games into 2010-11, it seems the Leafs have turned things around. Toronto won its first four starts, then dropped three games in a row before picking up a 3-1 victory over the Panthers Tuesday night. The Leafs’ 5-2-1 record currently has them sitting atop the division standings.
“They’re a good team, they’re a young team,” Patrice Bergeron said after practice on Wednesday. “Their players have developed into good players so I think that’s why they’re improved.”
Right wing Nathan Horton said he knows the Leafs have shown plenty of reasons for other teams to fear them thus far.
“Their defensemen are big, strong, physical, and their forwards are quick and fast,” Horton said, adding the Bruins will need to be prepared to work for 60 minutes on Thursday. Coach Claude Julien seemed to agree, noting that the B’s are “facing a team that’s coming in with lots of confidence, lots of speed and lots of energy.”
Speaking of energy, it has seemed to be just that the B’s have lacked early on in each of their losses this season. On Saturday, the Rangers put up a quick 2-0 lead on the Bruins in the first period, and the Bruins, despite getting goals from Zdeno Chara and Horton, were never quite able to make a full comeback.
“I think it’s just about making sure we have a good first couple shifts and be good on the forecheck right away,” Bergeron said. “If we get scored one goal against, we’ve got to make sure we keep our balance instead of just getting back over our heels for a couple shifts and letting them score another one.”
Horton echoed Bergeron’s thoughts on the loss to the Rangers.
“We kind of got behind the eight ball in the first period,” he said. “So, I think we need to have a big first period, big 10 minutes of the game, come out hard and I think put the pressure on them maybe.”
Pressure is something that should not be lacking on Thursday night. “It’s a divisional game,” Julien said, “both teams know that and the importance of it.” Although it’s very early, the team is focused on the fact that it’s still crucial to gain those two extra points and start things off in a solid way against these opponents.
“This is our first division game,” David Krejci said. “So, we play for a lot tomorrow and we obviously want to get a win, so that would be a big win for us, especially against Toronto.” Krejci insisted that despite coming off a loss, the team is feeling confident and comfortable with the kind of hockey they’ve been playing.
Besides just looking to collect points in this matchup though, the Bruins are determined not to let themselves drop two games in a row. “We’re a team that has to bounce back from losing our last game,” Julien said. “If you want to be a part of those elite teams in the league, you don’t want to lose two in a row.”
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