In their final game before the All-Star Break, the Toronto Maple Leafs (19-24-5) head to Tampa Bay to take on Steven Stamkos and the red-hot Lightning (30-15-5), who will be looking for their fifth straight victory.
Tampa Bay won both of the teams’ previous meetings this season: a 4-0 home shutout on November 9th, and a 4-3 victory in Toronto on November 30th.
Against the likes of Stamkos, Lecavalier, and St. Louis, it will be imperative for the Leafs to establish a strong defensive effort early if they are to have any hope of putting an end to both the Lightning’s win streak, and their own current two-game slide.
- James Reimer gets the nod in net for the Maple Leafs. In 7 appearances for the club this season, Reimer sports a 4-2-0 record with a 2.26 GAA and .933 SV%.
- At the other end of the rink, Dwayne Roloson is expected to start for the Lightning. For his career, Roloson sports a 4-7-0 record in 12 appearances against the Leafs, with a 2.53 GAA and .917 SV%.Â Since being acquired by the Lightning, “Rollie the Goalie” has posted a 6-3-0 record in 9 appearances, with a 2.53 GAA and a .914 SV%.
- Nikolai Kulemin returns to action tonight after missing the final two periods last night following his scrap with the Hurricanes’ Tim Gleason.Â Odds are he will refrain from scrapping anybody tonight — the Leafs need him on the ice, not in the box (or on the trainer’s table, for that matter).
- On that note, the Leafs received some unexpected offense from their checking unit last night, with Tim Brent (2) and Mike Brown (1) accounting for 3 of the team’s 4 goals.
- The much-maligned Leafs defense will have its hands full tonight:Â Steven Stamkos has 6 goals and 8 assists in 10 career games vs Toronto, and Martin St. Louis is near a point per game (39 in 40) vs Toronto himself.
- Phil Kessel leads the way for the Leafs with 7 goals in 17 career games against the Lightning. Dion Phaneuf has also had found some success against the Bolts with 6 points in 4 games.
- The Leafs catch a bit of a break tonight as Ryan Malone, who has burned them to the tune of 13 goals in 26 career games, is not expected to play.
- John Mitchell and Colton Orr remain out for the Leafs with injuries. Brett Lebda and Jay Rosehill are expected to be the healthy scratches.
- Update: Sjostrom out. Rosehill in.
Expected Leafs Lineup (per AM 640′s Jonas Siegel)