CHICAGO (45-20-5) at TORONTO (32-23-14)
7:00 pm (CBC-HNIC)
Brother against brother . . . mano a mano . . . one owns a Stanley Cup ring, the other chases his own path to the pinnacle of hockey. This is the NHL story of brothers Trevor and James van Riemsdyk.
Younger brother Trevor will face James tonight when the Chicago Blackhawks look to prey upon the Toronto Maple Leafs at the ACC.
This matchup is coming at a critical time for the young Leafs. As in gut check time. Wonder which way Mr. and Mrs. van Riemsdyk will cheer tonight?
After securing a win in a 5-0 thrashing of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and six of a possible eight points over the past four games, the Leafs have provided themselves with a small cushion in holding on to the last wild card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. That has been aided by an Islanders loss earlier today with Toronto holding two games in hand on the Isles and a game in hand on Tampa.
Tonight will not be an easy contest. The Blackhawks are the NHL’s modern dynasty and are playing complete four line hockey with and without the puck. Mike Babcock said as much during his post morning skate presser. There are lessons to be learned from tonight’s contest.
A noticeable absence from this mornings Leaf skate was the above mentioned James van Riemsdyk. No reason had been provided by the tight lipped Leafs. Twitter lit up early afternoon as both Leivo and Fehr alternated skating on the Bozak/Marner line. Paul Hendricks (@HennyTweets) of LeafsTV was able to confirm with LeafsHub that JvR will be in the lineup tonight.
The Leafs projected lineup is showing Gardiner playing with Zaitsev and Rielly with Marchenko. Looks like Mike Babcock is getting a look at possible postseason pairings as well as trying find defensive chemistry in the final 14 games.
Two points tonight is a must. So is a Tampa Bay loss. Being able to beat the very powerful Chicago’s would go a long way in not only chasing the playoffs but also put some of that swagger back into the young Leafs skating stride.
What do you think Leafs Nation? Discuss among yourselves.
Projected Line Combinations
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Komarov — Kadri — Brown
van Riemsdyk — Bozak — Marner
Hyman — Matthews — Nylander
Martin — Boyle — Soshnikov
Gardiner — Zaitsev
Rielly — Marchenko
Hunwick — Polak
Hayden — Toews — Panik
Panarin — Schmatlz — Kane
Hartman — Kero — Hossa
Desjardins — Kruger — Tootoo
Keith — van Riemsdyk
Oduya — Hjalmarsson
Campbell — Seabrooke