The potent Leafs offense would be wise to test Steve Mason early and often tonight.
The Flyers will have the rest advantage to go along with the added momentum that comes with playing in their home opener. The Leafs got off to a good road start last night, with three or four positive shifts to begin the game, before opening the scoring thanks to a few powerplay opportunities. They coughed up the lead and fell behind rather quickly later on in the first, but the good start is something to replicate.
Troy Bodie was a bright spot on the third line, while JvR, Raymond, Kadri and Kessel were all dangerous throughout the night. Lupul was a little quiet, but we can’t expect that to last.
Let’s hope to see both Ranger and Gardiner, if both remain in the lineup tonight, start to settle down. Ranger was shaky at points, while Gardiner had a hand in two goals against. It could have been three if not for a nice save from Reimer five minutes into the proceedings. Early on in the first, Gardiner got turned around at his own blueline by Rene Borque. It was a nice chip play by Borque, but Gardiner got caught on the wrong side and Borque walked right in for a good look at the net.
On the first Hab goal, Bozak and Kessel’s slow reaction on the 4 on 4 – a few moments of puck watching – were in part to blame. Also contributing to the breakdown was Gardiner, who ended up standing beside Ranger and one Hab while Eller stood alone in front. Gardiner tried to make an aggressive play on Galchenyuk, tying up his stick as the young Hab was attempting a tip on the initial point shot, but he wound up taking himself out of the play.
On the Canadiens’ third goal late in the third, Gardiner bobbled the puck at the blueline – which isn’t a big deal on its own, it seemed to be a result of a bouncing puck off a bad or deflected pass – but the real problem was letting Eller skate by him unfettered.
James Mirtle wondered if Gardiner may even come out as soon as tonight in favour of Morgan Rielly:
Guessing Rielly draws in for Gardiner tomorrow. Not a good game for him.
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) October 2, 2013
Gardiner is a key part to this defence core’s success this season, but he could find himself back in Carlyle’s dog house all over again before long if he doesn’t tighten up his game. His ability to do what he does best while taking care of his defensive responsibilities was evident in the Bruins series, and the Leafs are relying on a big season from him. I’d give Gardiner the chance to settle in before yanking him for those reasons.
As for the Flyers, it could be the same old story as years past. Flyers fans are hoping a healthy Andrej Meszaros and the addition of Mark Streit stabilizes their defence, and that one of Ray Emery or Steve Mason can somehow escape the clutches of the Philly goaltending graveyard and emerge as a decent starter.
Up front, this is a deep and dangerous team the Leafs are facing:
Scott Hartnell – Claude Giroux – Jakub Voracek
Brayden Schenn – Vincent Lecavalier – Wayne Simmonds
Max Talbot – Sean Couturier – Matt Read
Jay Rosehill – Adam Hall – Zac Rinaldo
The ability for the Flyers to roll three good, balanced lines will test the Leafs’ defensive mettle tonight.
It looks like Jay Rosehill will dress in the place of Scott Laughton to account for Colton Orr’s presence in the lineup. We could also see a middleweight bout(s) between Rinaldo and an Ashton, Fraser or Bodie.
Jonathan Bernier will make his regular season debut for the Toronto Maple Leafs in goal, looking to answer back after a pretty good performance from Reimer last night.
Projected Lineups (unofficial, will update closer to game time):
Maple Leafs Lines vs. Philadelphia FlyersToronto Maple Leafs vs The Philadelphia Flyers Lineups, Oct. 2nd, 2013
|Left Defense||Right Defense|
Philadelphia Flyers Lines vs. Maple LeafsToronto Maple Leafs vs The Philadelphia Flyers Lineups, Oct. 2nd, 2013
|Left Defense||Right Defensem|