Leafs/Blue Jackets Preview

Leafs/Blue Jackets Preview

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    The Toronto Maple Leafs continue their 3 game road swing tonight as they visit Columbus to take on Rick Nash and his Blue Jackets. The Leafs will be without both Jonas Gustavsson and Carl Gunnarsson for the trip, and Vesa Toskala will be in the lineup as MacDonald’s backup for the tilt.

    Jonas Gustavsson will undergo a repeat heart ablation tomorrow. After his examination with medical professionals, they felt it was necessary for him to undergo the procedure a second time. It has been reported that one in five people who receive the heart ablation require it a second time, and it’s success rate rises to 90% after the repeated procedure.

    Carl Gunnarsson suffered a hyper-extended left arm injury in the matchup with the Buffalo Sabres on Monday and is expected to be out for 4 to 6 weeks – the freak injuries continue for the Maple Leafs.

    The Leafs will certainly have their fair chance at winning today, as they are 5-5-4 on the road this season. The Columbus Blue Jackets have just 1 win in their last 7 games. Matt Stajan is on a hot streak with 10 points in his last 10 games, and Phil Kessel has 4 points in his last 3 outings. Should Kessel have a three point night tonight, he’ll be 2nd on the team in points in 10 fewer games than any other player on the team.

    Joey MacDonald will hope make just a few extra saves tonight and bump his current save percentage from an 0.898 to a 0.900. Jonas Gustavsson was credited with the win on Tuesday night against the Montreal Canadiens, but neither goaltender was credited with a shutout, oddly.

    When leading after the first period, the Leafs have a win percentage of 0.750. The Blue Jackets have only won 0.500 percent of their games when being out-shot.

    This Sunday will be the Maple Leafs Skills Competition. Here are my predictions on who will win the major events:

    Fastest Skater: Mikhail Grabovski will win this event unless the Leafs have pilons on the ice. If so, Grabovski will have his head down until the last minute before being hammered to the ice by the plastic cone.

    Hardest Shot: Lee Stempniak will win the hardest shot competition, but he won’t be credited with the bragging rights because none of his shots will hit the net from 25 feet out.

    Puck Control Relay: Tomas Kaberle will win the puck control relay, as he works around each and every cone before stopping on the inside of each blue line to allow his opponent to catch up.

    Accuracy Shooting: Jason Blake will win the target practice round, as he has proven time and time again that he can hit whatever is put in the net 99% of the time. Fans might find it odd that he will perform a 4 for 4 impressive feat from the side boards.

    Team Comparison:

    Powerplay: TOR 10th (21.6%), CBJ 3rd (24.0%)
    Penalty Kill: TOR 30th (74.0%), CBJ 23rd (77.7%)
    Faceoff % – TOR 14th (49.9%), CBJ 13th (50.0%)
    Average Shots For: TOR 1st (34.7), CBJ 19th (29.2)
    Average Shots Against: TOR 17th (30.3), CBJ 23rd (31.6)
    Average Goals For: TOR 21st (2.65), CBJ 9th (3.04)
    Average Goals Against: TOR 29th (3.46), CBJ 28th (3.37)
    5 on 5 Goals For/Against Ratio: TOR 24th (0.84), CBJ 23rd (0.84)

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    Micheal A. Aldred

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