The Maple Leafs visit the Joe Louis Arena in the only meeting of the season against anÂ original six rival in the Detroit Red Wings. Coming off their third-straight win after a victory in Colorado on Thursday, tonight’s game is the next step in the attempt to more or less run the board and climb into the top-eight of the Eastern Conference.Â Despite being second in the West, the Red Wings have struggled in the month of March, going 4-4-3 in their last 11, including two losses in regulation and an overtime loss, in their last three games.
Toronto is looking to capitalize on the Red Wings glut of injuries. DetroitÂ will beÂ without leading offensive forwardsÂ Pavel Datsyuk (lower body), Todd BertuzziÂ (back) and Johan Franzen (groin). With a 16-7-4 overall record and a 12-3-1 road record when James Reimer is between the pipes, the Leafs have been one of the top three teams since the all star break, behind only the San Jose Sharks and New Jersey Devils. In order to prove up to making the playoffs, let alone to competing in them, Toronto needs to be able to beat the best. Let’s hope the continued lack of outside help hasn’t taken some of the wind out of the Leafs’ collective sail, as the state of Florida failed the Leafs last night with Carolina and Buffalo wins over Tampa Bay and the Panthers.
Follow the jump for today’s Leaf Links.
“You scoreboard-watch a little bit and you hope and pray that other teams help you out,” said Reimer, “but all you can control is what you do and how you play and what you do on the ice. Right now we’re just trying to focus in here and take care of our business and hopefully we can squeak in there.”
Pension Plan Puppets unveils a playoff death clock to track the Leafs’ chances to qualify for the post season.
Jeffler previews what’s ahead in Marlie Land at the HQ.
Steve Lansky of The Leafs Nation thinks the blue and white displayed a full-team effort in Colorado on Thursday.
DGB runs down the lengthy suspensions in the NHLÂ dating back to 1989.
Colorado beat writer Adrian Dater offers an unbiased and well-written profile on Optimus Reim’s standout play in Toronto.
Jonas Siegel writes that Aulie has complimented Phaneuf since been recalled from the AHL.
Article from the Toronto Star on the second season slump for Tyler Bozak and the possibility of Reimer experiencing a slip in his game next year.
James Mirtle discusses every Leaf fans’ worst nightmare.
Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun writes that other coaches around the league are taking notice of Reimer, including Red Wings bench boss Mike Babcock.
Another story for the Sun on the memories that Luke Schenn and Nikolai Kulemin still hold from their first game at the Joe.
In his weekly rumor roundup, THN blogger Lyle Spector looks at the possibility of the Leafs buying out the contract of Mike Komisarek, among others.
Other hockey links:
Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy is one of many who still believes the Leafs have hope.
Houses of the Hockey looks at the teams still in the thick of the playoff race.
St. Louis beat writer Andy Strickland reports that former Montreal Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau is interested in returning to the NHL.
Leafs Video of the Day:
You can’t pick this up on your standard TV feed – the audio of Optimus Reim’s activity in net courtesy of Steve Dangle: