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Preview; Bruins look to end Leafs playoff hopes in series finale

March 31, 2011

The Leafs hold less than a 1% chance of making the playoffs coming into tonight’s contest, something the Bruins will look to effectively eliminate the Leafs from playoff contention in the season finale between the two clubs. The Bruins are a somewhat disappointing 2-2-1 against the Leafs this season. Toronto has won the last two meetings by scores of 4-3 and 5-2.

The Bruins are riding a two-game winning streak over the Stanley Cup finalists of last year and are winners of four of their last five games to bring them within three points of second place. The Leafs have also won four of their last five games to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

Phil Kessel finally broke out against his former club in the 4-3 win back in February, scoring his first two goals against his former club, breaking a nine-game goal-less drought against Boston. Kessel will be hard-pressed to score against his former team tonight if they continued to play like they have lately. The Bruins have given up just three goals in their previous five games.

Tim Thomas will most likely get the start tonight, his third start in five days. I like that the Bruins are still gunning for the second seed in the East but it’s getting to the time where you have to start resting your most valuable player. Thomas will turn 37 years old in the first round of the playoffs so making sure he’s rested will be crucial to a long playoff run.

Shawn Thornton won’t play tonight after receiving 40 stitches above his right eye after an errant skate struck him in the second period on Tuesday. Thornton had practiced with a shield but wasn’t cleared to play by the medical staff. Michael Ryder will take his spot in the lineup. Also, Johnny Boychuk will get a night off and Steven Kampfer will take his place.

The Bruins first round pick is at 10th today but could move up or down as the final few games shake out. Let’s hope for the Bruins sake that it trends into the single digits.

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