The first five games of the Toronto Maple Leafs season have to be considered a success. A 4-0-1 record is almost the ideal outcome for the homestand, falling one point shy of perfect.
Tonight, the Leafs face what should be their toughest challenge to date against the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins. That being said, in last year's season series the Leafs won four games out of six. If the Leafs can overcome the Bruins once again, they might just show the NHL that they are for real. I know it's only five games into the season, but a 5-0-1 record to start the season will keep up the Leafs' confidence that much more.
The Bruins only have two wins on the season. The Leafs need to take advantage of the Bruins' early Stanley Cup hangover and get off to a fast start. The Bruins have only scored more than two goals on one occasion this season so now would be a good time for Nikolai Kulemin, Mikhail Grabovski and Clarke MacArthur to back up Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul's offense.
The Leafs have been led by the first line of Kessel, Lupul and Tyler Bozak. Kessel currently leads the NHL in goals and points with seven and 12, respectively. Lupul potted two goals last night to bring his total to four and is looking to be a pretty good offensive force for the Leafs. That being said, they can't do it alone every night and the aforementioned Kulemin, Grabovski and MacArthur need to step up their game.
The Leafs' play last night in the second period was really sloppy, and for the second straight game, they needed to claw their way back into the game to force overtime. If the Leafs are to be successful this season, they can't rely on getting back into the game every night and hope to get the second point.
Jonas Gustavsson will get his first start of the season tonight and he will need to be at the top of his game for the Leafs to have a chance to win. If they do, Gustavsson's confidence should get a boost as it was rattled last season with his struggles.
Will the Leafs win and improve their record to 5-0-1? Or will the Bruins play like the defending Stanley Cup champions they are and end Toronto's points streak? We'll find out tonight.