Maple Leafs have to beat the East to return to playoffs

Maple Leafs have to beat the East to return to playoffs

Why this could happen: If they follow the script of the last two seasons and stumble down the homestretch while Toronto (2 games in hand) catches fire, the Bruins might have to hope they can hold off either Tampa Bay or the Islanders and squeak into the postseason, where a first round date with either top seeded Washington or Columbus would await.

The Bruins head into the Air Canada Centre for a pivotal show down between Atlantic division foes on Monday night in a game that carries significant weight in the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference as Boston now holds the final automatic berth in the Atlantic division with 82 points, and are three up on the Leafs who are in the final wild card spot with 79 and a game in hand. After going 4-1-1 in their last six games, they are only three back of the Bruins with a game in hand.

"Look up, look down, sideways - it don't matter, we're looking all over the place", Kadri said of the playoff chase.

"We're close - we know that", Kadri added.

The Bruins are dealing with an illness in the dressing room and several players didn't take part in the morning skate. Is Marchand any less annoying now that he's so productive offensively? "I can definitely relate, because I feel guys feel the same way about me". Another report from the Boston Globe confirms this, but also states that Backes "should be good to play".

Auston Matthews was linemates with Marchand at the All-Star Game in Los Angeles. And then we just stop playing. Matthews certainly appreciates the way the Nova Scotia native plays. "I think the battle is to get that flow of the game, keep the rhythm, stay out of your own head - just play hockey". He plays with a lot of passion out there. The Leafs are 3-0 this season. We're trying to catch teams above us, and we're aware of teams that are right on our heels. "They play a high tempo". Obviously, their system is different now with Babcock and they play pretty tight, man-on-man all over the ice.

Bergeron has 55 points in 59 games against Toronto; Marchand, named the first star of the week on Monday, has 26 points in 32 games when the Leafs are the opposition. He's missed a month with the ailment, but may get the go-ahead if he has a good workout on Monday morning ahead of the match.

Connor Carrick returns for the Leafs after missing 11 games with a shoulder injury, which will really help round out their top four better.

"He'll be a gametime decision", Cassidy said of Backes' availability for tonight's game against the Maple Leafs.