PREDATORS (28-21-11) @ MAPLE LEAFS (20-27-10)
7:30 pm (TSN4)
Tonight a western conference foe will be invading the Air Canada Center as the Nashville Predators invade Leafs territory preying on a weakened opponent for a win. For Nashville these 2 points are crucial for their playoff aspirations. For Toronto the scorched earth tear down continues and the benefits of a loss outweigh the need for a win.
Nashville is coming off a 2-1 shoot out win last night to help maintain their place in the 1st wildcard playoff spot in the western conference. They can control their own destiny from here to the end of the season but are looking over their shoulder as the Minnesota Wild are on a 4 game win streak nipping at the heels of both Nashville and Colorado. To say tonights 2 points are important would be an understatement.
The Preds are relatively healthy but may be without the services of Barret Jackman. The long time NHL’er was a scratch for the Montreal game and there is little else information to go on except that he is listed as day to day. Both wingers Bourque (undisclosed) and Nystrom (fractured foot) have missed significant time and are not expected in tonights lineup. The loss of Jackman’s leadership may become significant for the Pred’s playoff chase.
Don’t let Nashvilles 4-3-3 record over the past ten fool you. They have picked up points in 6 consecutive games. Nashville’s defense corps has provided much of the offense this season with Roman Josi leading the pack with 42 points and captain Shea Weber tallying 15 goals to lead all Predator defenders.
Besides defensive prowess for goals another key for Nashville is the size advantage they hold over the Maple Leafs. The Leafs have been hit hard by the injury bug and with the time lost so went the team muscle.
As the contracts continue to be shopped and shipped sometimes a players true worth is measured by how well his former team performs after he has departed. Tonight the Leafs will find out how valuable Roman Polak was to the team as the hulking/grinding defenceman was shipped to San Jose one week prior to the trade deadline. Raffe Torres was the return player as part of that trade but rest assured he will not be dressing for the Marlies as quoted from Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello and even less likely to ever wear a Leafs Jersey. Toronto did score a couple of 2nd round draft picks helping stock up for 2017 and 2018.
Komarov will serve game 2 of his 3 game suspension and the Leafs lineup will be dotted with Marlie call ups as a result of the lengthy injury list and trades. It was reveled yesterday that James Van Riemsdyk may be out longer than expected due to his broken foot. It was also reported on Twitter this morning that Tyler Bozak was skating prior to the Leafs game day skate. His return to the lineup may be sooner than later.
The rumour mill has been churning with speculation being about James Reimer. Each time a starting goalie gets hurt Leafs fans react accordingly. Today the St. Louis Blues have released that Brian Elliot is hurt and will miss significant time with a lower body injury. Jake Allen is a very capable goaltender but St. Louis has been splitting game action between both goalies this season. Similar to Toronto’s 1 and 1A situation. Sending Reimer to St. Louis may make sense..
Reimer is expected to start tonight but don’t be surprised if Bernier gets the nod as Babcock has been throwing a few curve balls lately prior to game time. It may also be an indication that a trade may be close. The tear down continues. The next six days will be interesting.
Enjoy the game tonight.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Michael Grabner – Nazem Kadri – Brendan Leipsic
Colin Greening – Mark Arcobello – PA Parenteau
Daniel Winnik – Peter Holland – Brad Boyes
Josh Leivo – Byron Froese – Rich Clune
Morgan Rielly – Martin Marincin
Jake Gardiner – Frank Corrado
Viktor Loov – Stuart Percy
Calle Jarnkrok – Ryan Johansen – James Neal
Filip Forsberg – Mike Ribeiro – Craig Smith
Colin Wilson – Mike Fisher – Viktor Arvidsson
Miikka Salomaki – Paul Gaustad – Austin Watson
Roman Josi – Shea Weber
Mattias Ekholm – Ryan Ellis
Anthony Bitetto – Petter Granberg
Only one more day to vote, tell us who you want to slam the door on!!