Tonight, the Atlanta Thrashers will visit the Toronto Maple Leafs at the ACC, and it will be the return of both Nik Antropov and Pavel Kubina. Exelby is in for Finger, so he'll get a chance to face his former team. For those with their fingers crossed, I also hope Exelby will fight Eric Boulton.
Pavel Kubina has regained his form since being dealt to Atlanta in an exchange that brought Garnet Exelby to Toronto. He currently has 3 goals and 12 points in 25 games this season, and is second in the league in the plus/minus column at +16. In his 3 seasons with Toronto, he had a collective -3.
Nik Antropov, on the other hand, is having a career year in points. He's discovered his playmaking abilities and has led the Thrashers in assists (21) and is also second on the club, behind only Kubina, with a +13 on the year.
Toronto is currently within 7 points of a playoff position. They did suffer quite the terrible effort on Saturday night, but the team will certainly be looking to bounce back immediately with a win over the Thrashers tonight. Should the Leafs put another string of 4 or 5 wins together over their next 5 to 7 games, they should easily jump to a top 10 position. It all begins tonight at home – a place where victories seem to be a dream. Winning is a must at this point, as the Leafs will play 5 of their next 6 games at home. If they cannot find a way to be over 0.500 at the ACC, then there's no chance for this team to crack the post-season with a humiliating home record.
The Leafs have demoted Christian Hanson and Rickard Wallin is expected to take his place in the lineup. The Leafs are 0-4-3 during week day games this season. Vesa Toskala will get the start in goal tonight.
As for the MapleLeafs Skills Competition this weekend, here are the results:
Fastest Skater: Team White – Nikolai Kulemin. 14.05 seconds
Hardest Shot: Team Blue – Beauchemin – 102.2 MPH.
Shooting Accuracy: Team White – Rickard Wallin – 4/5.
Freestyle Shootout: Jason Blake won.
Alexei Ponikarovsky won the survivor shootout.
Micheal A. Aldred