The Maple Leafs are looking to rebound from probably their worst effort of the season with a win over the John Tavares front-runners inside the Nassau Coliseum tonight.
A 8-2 smacking at the hands of the Dallas Stars spoiled what was otherwise a fruitful pre-Christmas seven game stretch. The Leafs wound up collecting 10 out of a possible 14 points from the stint but ended on a bleak note, seemingly a result of a demanding schedule of four games in six nights, three of which were on the road. A loss would’ve been understandable considering the circumstances, but there was still no excusing the effortless performance the Leafs put forth before a home crowd that around Christmas time scraped together the remaining remnants in their bank accounts (at least in the upper decks) in order to splurge on tickets to watch that horror show. It was a non-contest right from the onset as the Stars scored thrice before the Leafs even registered their first shot of the game.
After their brief Christmas stay at home, the Leafs will look to rebound against a basement-dwelling Islanders team that has yet to win in the month of December (0-9-1). The Islanders are unquestionably the worst overall team in the league, sitting 28th and 29th in goals for and goals against respectively. The Leafs remain eighth in GF but, after starting to gain ground in the GA category,Â have fallen back to 28th as a result of the eight burger they suffered at the hands of the Stars.
To be fair, the Islanders have been hampered by some serious injury woes. Rick DiPietro,Â Mike Sillinger, Andy Sutton, Frans Nielsen, Radek Martinek, Nate Thompson, Bruno Gervais and now Doug Weight (day-to-day, may play) have all been bit by the injury bug and remain sidelined.Â The Isles also play in a tough Atlantic division that inclues four teams that are well above .500.
Joey MacDonald has taken the reigns since DiPietro suffered his early season groin injury and has posted some alright numbers considering his record and the team in front of him (.902 SV %).
Vesa Toskala, coming off a nightmarish outing against Dallas in which he posted a .740 save percentage, will presumably mind the posts for the Leafs. Toskala needs a big rebound performance and for that there is no better opponent than NYI. Toskala’s last memory of the building was the 180 foot seeing eye bouncer that beat him in the team’s 3-1 win over the Isles last March. Overall, Toskala has had moderate success against the Isles, going 2-1 with a 2.36 GAA in three career meetings with the Isles.
The Leafs took the first of four season meetings by a score of 4-2 at home in early December.
Official line-ups to come.