GDT: Leafs at Islanders (7 p.m., Sportsnet Ontario)
The Leafs are on Long Island tonight looking to bounce back after a dismal showing at home against the Habs less than 24 hours ago. Tonight is like most game nights in that I’d highly recommend the Leafs win, but it’s especially the case given they’re playing the Islanders and have New Jersey and Pittsburgh on tap after the upcoming three-day break.
The big story as far as lineup changes go is the return of James Reimer, who banged up his knee 17 days ago. Tonight hopefully marks the beginning of a two- (healthy) Leafs goalie platoon where both ‘tendies push each other for the opportunity to provide quality starts. Reimer’s last start was the Leafs’ 5-2 win over Philadelphia and he enters tonight looking to belatedly continue a three-game win streak. He’s 6-3-0 with a .931 save percentage on the season.
Old habits crept into the Leafs’ game last time out against the Isles. In a wide open affair of traded chances and a ton of mistakes, the Leafs stormed out of the gates only to give up five unanswered, falling 7-4. That game also came on the second half of a back to back against the rested Isles, so the challenge is much the same. The Leafs are currently 1-2 in back to back scenarios, but their one win did come in response to a similarly poor effort to last night’s. After falling to Carolina 4-1 on February 4 at the ACCC, the Leafs traveled to the Verizon Center and beat the Capitals 3-2 the next day.
The Isles are currently two losses into a seven-game homestand and have conceded eight goals to the Hurricanes and Bruins in those outings. The Leafs will have to find it in their legs to do a much better job dictating the pace than they did last night. The top line will need to respond after their worst effort of the season (-4 each in just 15 minutes of ice time).