Pre-Game: Leafs at Thrashers

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    Tonight, the Toronto Maple Leafs hope to rebound from their loss to the Panthers with a win tonight against another team they must steal points from – the Atlanta Thrashers. The Leafs continue their quest to remove themselves from the bottom five in the third of four meetings with Atlanta this season.

    Atlanta is coming off a 4-0 loss to the Boston Bruins – a team they had to beat to gain some ground for a potential post-season seed. They look to take out their frustration against the young Buds tonight. “We don’t think about the implications of the game,” said Thrashers head coach John Anderson. “We worry about how we play. We need to come out hard and do all the things that we want to do as a team. Whatever happens, happens. I don’t want us to dwell on the fact that it’s a huge game because then you start to squeeze your stick a little tight. We just have to play the game the way we want to play it.”

    Toronto has won six of their last 7 outings and are 7-3-0 in their last 10. “We’ve got to get a little hungrier when we want to score goals, get more traffic,” said JS Giguere. “We need to try and play a solid 60 minutes.”

    As the Leafs have continued a back and forth method for who starts which game, tonight is expected to be Jonas Gustavsson’s opportunity to continue to impress as he aims for a 6th straight win. In his last two games, the Monster has posted a 1.44 goals against average and a 0.948 SV%. That is impressive on every level. In a crucial time of the season to present your worth to your franchise, Gustavsson seems settled and is improving game in and game out.

    Here are the breakdowns between these two clubs:

    Who’s Hot? Toronto:

    Dion Phaneuf (D) 2 pts in last 3 GP
    Tyler Bozak (C) 8 pts in last 7 GP
    Nikolai Kulemin (RW/LW) 9 pts in last 8 GP
    Phil Kessel (RW) 8 pts in last 7 GP
    Jonas Gustavsson (G) 2-0-0, 1.44, .948 in last 2 GPI
    Jean-Sebastien Giguere (G) 1-1-0, 1.94, .925 in last 2 GPI

    Who’s Hot? Atlanta:

    Ron Hainsey (D) 3 pts in last 2 GP
    Rich Peverley (C/RW) 2 pts in last 2 GP
    Clarke MacArthur (LW/C) 3 pts in last 3 GP
    Todd White (C/LW) 3 pts in last 4 GP
    Jim Slater (C/W) 4 pts in last 5 GP
    Ondrej Pavelec (G) 1-0-1, 1.44, .962 in last 2 GPI

    Quick Cold Notables for Toronto:

    Tomas Kaberle (D) 0 pts in last 5 GP
    Carl Gunnarsson (D) 0 pts in last 5 GP
    Mikhail Grabovski (C) 0 pts in last 3 GP

    Toronto Injuries:

    Mike Van Ryn (D) Left knee surgery (Remainder of season)
    Michael Komisarek (D) Shoulder surgery (Remainder of season)

    Atlanta Injuries:

    Christoph Schubert (D/LW) Hip injury (Early April)
    Chris Thorburn (RW) Flu (Day to day)
    Boris Valabik (D) Torn ACL (Remainder of season)
    Evander Kane (LW/C) Broken left foot (Late March)

    Post your predictions of the game, enjoy some fast paced action, watch for the kids to use their speed up front and their physical presence on the back end. It’s Leafs action tonight, and for once in quite a few years, it’s a great time to be a Leafs fan.

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    Micheal A. Aldred
    [email protected]