MAPLE LEAFS (23-16-9) at BLUES (24-21-5)
9:00 pm (TSN4)
After a dreadful 6-3 loss to the Dallas Stars on Tuesday, the Toronto Maple Leafs will look to rebound tonight vs the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center.
The Leafs looked like they were still on vacation in the 1st period vs Dallas falling behind 5-1, which essentially put the game too far out of reach.
Defensive miscues and a lack of defensive cohesion and organization led to a slew of goals by the Stars early and both Leaf goalies took a hit to their goals against.
Mike Babcock but the lineup in a blender and started to mix things up for the final two periods. While they ended up bettering the Stars 2-1 in the final 40 minutes, that wasn’t enough to overcome that large a deficit. Likely tonight though, Babcock will revert back to the regular lines he’s used most of the season.
The only bright spot was Mitch Marner’s 2 points that put him in a tie with Patrick Laine of the Jets for most points among rookies.
Once again it will be Morgan Reilly watch for tonight as he is still day to day with his ankle injury and it will be wait and see before we know if he will be able to return to the lineup. His loss has had a great impact as the team has a 2-3-1 record since he has been gone. It has really brought into focus that the Leafs need blueline help either now or down the road if the team truly wants to be a perennial contender.
Tonight they face a Blues team that will have a new coach, Mike Yeo. The team fired long time coach Ken Hitchcock in an effort to shake up the struggling team.
This change could go 2 ways for St Louis. The team could find a spark, like the Islanders have when they fired Jack Capuano and turned the team over to Doug Weight. Or, the team could continue to flounder.
The Blues have lost their last 4 home games and 5 of their last 6 games overall. They have given up 28 goals in those 6 games. Both defence and goaltending has been atrocious in this stretch save for the shutout by Carter Hutton vs the Penguins.
Their special teams have not been bad. They are 8th on the powerplay and 12th on the PK. They are though one of the league’s worst defensive teams overall. But that will be moot if the Leafs give up 6 goals again.
The Blues definitely have some offensive talent. They are led by Vladimir Tarasenko who has 49 points and 22 goals on the season. He will have to be slowed down for the Leafs to take this tough road match. He’s definitely one reason why they could use Reilly back into the lineup.
Frederik Andersen will most certainly get the start for the Leafs. He has a career 4-2 record with a .932 save percentage and 2.18 GAA vs the Blues.
The last 2 wins by St Louis were from Hutton, so he may get the start tonight for the Blues, but nothing has been confirmed as yet. Ty Conklin and Martin Brodeur have taken over as goalie consultants for the Blues as Jim Corsi was also let go yesterday.
If both teams are porous defensively, this could be a high scoring affair.
Projected Line Combinations
Toronto Maple Leafs
Komarov — Bozak — Brown
Hyman — Matthews — Nylander
van Riemsdyk — Kadri — Marner
Martin — Smith — Soshnikov
Marincin — Zaitsev
Gardiner — Carrick
Hunwick — Polak
St. Louis Blues
Steen — Stastny — Perron
Schwartz — Lehtera — Tarasenko
Fabbri — Berglund — Yakupov
Upshall — Barbashev — Reaves
Bowmeester — Pietrangelo
Shattenkirk — Parayko
Edmunson — Gunnarsson
*Morgan Rielly will be a game time decision.
Mike Babcock — Practice — 02/01/2017