Game Preview: A needed two points

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AP Photo/David Duprey

In the first two weeks of December, which is now two days away, the Leafs will face San Jose, St. Louis, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago and Pittsburgh. First, they will play a back to back against Buffalo and Montreal to close out November. Seems like they should probably pick up a few points starting tonight.

The Leafs are 4-5-2 in the month of November and will have to sweep this back to back to come out with a winning record in a relatively easy month, one that features three games with tonight’s last-placed opponent. Guess when the Sabres last won a game? Yep, against the Leafs in the first leg of their November 15/16 back to back. Five consecutive regulation losses since (one to the Leafs) has this Sabres team well on track for the first overall draft selection in the 2014 draft with a putrid 5-20-1 record. The Sabres haven’t scored more than a goal in a game since their two-goal third period in Toronto two weeks ago.

The Leafs didn’t play particularly well against Buffalo in either game of the home and home, but went 1-1 and were without Kadri and Bozak. That said, the first game was somewhat of a trap if you consider the Leafs were without their entire center group and Ted Nolan was coaching his first game behind the Buffalo bench. The first 40 minutes of the second game featured some dominant spells by the Leafs, but a near-collapse in the third period left a bad taste in the mouth.

On that note, Randy Carlyle, with the number of optional skates he’s been holding in the last month, seems to think energy is an issue for his team when they waver (i.e. every game) in their sixty minute effort. That could be the case, but it seems their main issue is reacting to certain situations thrown their way by the opposition when they start bringing the pressure by pinching with their D down the boards – which seems to be exploiting a systemic sore spot. Is it any coincidence the hold on leads has been tenuous at times for this team?

Lineup Notes:

Carter Ashton has been recalled from the Toronto Marlies. He last played on November 15 vs. these same Buffalo Sabres and was sent down on November 21 when Kadri came back from suspension and Bozak had also returned from injury. In two games down with the Marlies, Ashton tallied three points (1 goal, 2 assists). The fourth line is better off with him, his board play and physicality, on it as far as I’m concerned.

We won’t know lineup information until game time given the optional practice. On D, one imagines Jake Gardiner draws back in and Jonas Siegel seems to think it could be Morgan Rielly coming out.

Not sure why Mark Fraser and Cody Franson are immune to the rotation here.

James Reimer will start in net, with Jonathan Bernier getting the start in his hometown tomorrow in Montreal.

This is a game the Leafs simply have to win. They’re stumbling, and somewhat to their credit still scraping along at around .500, but a blowout at the hands of Columbus followed by the 4-1 and 5-3 lead forfeitures to Pittsburgh has the Leafs in a position where a loss to the 5-20 Sabres would be pretty crushing.

Carlyle Game Day Presser:

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Alec Brownscombe is the founder of MapleLeafsHotStove.com, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He was also the editor of the 2009-12 Maple Leafs Annuals. You can contact him at [email protected]
  • lieffan

    I’d take a loss to the Habs over the Sabres. There, I said it. Loss to Buffalo would be that embarrassing.

  • Burtonboy

    Just to perfectly clear .I have no big issue with talking trades. Personally I prefer to talk trades that have some chance of actually happening, not the wish list stuff. That being said its a free country and a public board so knock yourselves out. Still don’t mean people won’t take the odd snipe at some of these fantasy trades though.

  • vinoa

    Burtonboy So you’re saying the Kadri for Tavares trade is going down?

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Burtonboy I’d prefer to read rumours that have a source, personally. A lot of message boards require a legitimate source or trade speculation is deleted.

  • dlb eh

    vinoa
    clearly it’s bigger than that

  • Alec Brownscombe

    TheCanucksnaphook Alec Brownscombe Burtonboy Did I delete anything, Phook? Stating what I prefer in response to BB’s comment. I usually just tune it out.

  • dlb eh

    TheCanucksnaphook
    Carkner has to be included

  • Bernier_The_Boats

    To Toronto – Jeff Carter and Mike Richards (Harry and Lloyd)
    To L.A – Bozak and Kessel (Bert and Ernie)
    HAHAHAHAHA!!!

  • vinoa

    dlb eh vinoa I know. I was just being a dick. If and when a trade is made you know it’ll be big news, even for a couple of AHLers.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Bernier_The_Boats One thing I’ll say is that MLHS was all over Carter and Richards getting traded out of Philly before anyone else had even floated it as a possibility.

  • Bernier_The_Boats

    Alec Brownscombe Bernier_The_Boats True That…

  • vinoa

    Bernier_The_Boats Lol. A swap of Odd Couples? Feel sorry for Kulie now that he’s lost both of his buddies. Maybe we can trade for a BFF for Kulie?

  • Burtonboy

    TheCanucksnaphook Burtonboy Totally different times phook

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Burtonboy TheCanucksnaphook Cap times.

  • Bernier_The_Boats

    vinoa Bernier_The_Boats Hmmm…if you are talking Gino, I hope Nonis could make it happen
    To Toronto – Malkin
    To Pitt – Lupul, Bolland and a First

  • Alec Brownscombe

    TheCanucksnaphook Alec Brownscombe My issue comes in if it becomes rampant and is all I’m forced to read. Which can be a tendency.

  • Bernier_The_Boats

    (NHL 14 would let it happen)…lol

  • Burtonboy

    Fist pump Rene always brightens up my day …..#not

  • vinoa

    Bernier_The_Boats How is that btw? I think I have NHL 10 or something. Not much of a gamer. Got a PS3 for Netflix and CoD. Is it a game worth getting for someone who really isn’t a fan of gaming?

  • vinoa

    Burtonboy Lol I first read that as “Fist up Rene always brightens up my day”

  • Bernier_The_Boats

    vinoa Bernier_The_Boats I find it more difficult than it looks…(GM mode)…you could burn an afternoon pretty easy working on cap stuff.  Pretty cool though.

  • Burtonboy

    vinoa Burtonboy we need a sarcasm button lol

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Bernier_The_Boats vinoa If either of you have Xbox Live, add me at LeafsHotStove.
    I’m pretty fucking good but I’m struggling to break out using a collapsing system.

  • vinoa

    Burtonboy vinoa I’m sure some would agree that a fist up Rene always brightens up their day lol 😛

  • Burtonboy

    vinoa Burtonboy LOL

  • ConnorCrisp

    Alec Brownscombe Bernier_The_Boats vinoa Sounds familiar rofl

  • Bernier_The_Boats

    Burtonboy Where did this Kads for JohnnyT stuff come from anyways?  (I am late to the party a bit)

  • ConnorCrisp

    Bernier_The_Boats Burtonboy boredom i think

  • Burtonboy

    Bernier_The_Boats Burtonboy Ask Phook . It was his idea lol

  • Bernier_The_Boats

    Burtonboy Bernier_The_Boats Should’ve known Phook was behind it….j/k

  • vinoa

    Bernier_The_Boats vinoa Might be worth checking out. Need something to do during the holiday season.
    Alec Brownscombe I’m on the PS3. But I am considering grabbing one of the new ones. Have you compared them? I don’t really know any Xbox users and it’s impossible getting an unbiased opinion on the Net.

  • lieffan

    Bernier_The_Boats Burtonboy People with nothing interesting to say about the team who resort to trade proposals that will never happen.

  • Bernier_The_Boats

    vinoa Bernier_The_Boats Alec Brownscombe I wouldn’t be able to give you an opinion, as I only have Xbox and the last platform I used was Dreamcast in college in the late 90’s…

  • vinoa

    @lieffan Bernier_The_Boats Burtonboy Here’s something interesting: not being a negative jerk all the time. Try it, you may have a bit of fun. I didn’t realize that we were all here to be interesting, just for you to enjoy. Yeah some of the trade talks are crazy but it’s all in good fun…surely you’ve heard of it?

  • Bernier_The_Boats

    @lieffan Bernier_The_Boats Burtonboy Dreaming is always nice though…I actually enjoy a trade proposal if it has been given cap consideration.  Cameron has put a few together in the past that have made sense…it’s all relative to the timing and thought really IMO.

  • vinoa

    Bernier_The_Boats  LMAO!!! Segaaaa! Anyone else think that Sonic was the shit? Kids today with their “3D” graphics..spoiled I tell ya!

  • lieffan

    Bernier_The_Boats Burtonboy I agree there. If there’s a decent basis to the rumour I can read it and give it some thought

    JT FOR KADRI KJKJKJDKFJSDKFS

    I cannot read, for it is an insult to intelligent hockey fans everywhere.

  • Bernier_The_Boats

    @lieffan Bernier_The_Boats Burtonboy Don’t take it so personally…or I’ll start throwing them out there just to stir shit up…  :)

  • Bernier_The_Boats

    vinoa Bernier_The_Boats That dreamcast hockey was waaay ahead of its time.   I loved it.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    @lieffan Bernier_The_Boats Burtonboy One system that might make everyone happy is for us to get the mashups posted every day.  Leave all “general discussion” in the mashup and the blogs that are designed to discuss certain ideas or games can be left to discuss certain ideas or games.
    As in, if you want to post something random, that’s for the mashup.
    Could organize discussion a little better.

  • MaxwellHowe

    I would hope we’d see 4 hockey lines, but I have a feeling McLaren will be in put in to deal with the potential for silliness.  Though with Clarkson, Orr and Fraser in the lineup, I’m not sure any further deterrent is required.

  • vinoa

    Bernier_The_Boats My buddy’s a total game geek and he said the same thing. He said that the Dreamcast’s only fault was being released ahead of it’s time.

  • Bernier_The_Boats

    Alec Brownscombe Bernier_The_Boats Burtonboy Alec, I wouldn’t change a thing…this site can’t be tailored for the masses any more than it is.  Variety and difference in opinion is the whole selling point of this site in the first place.  Keep up the good work!  (All contributors)

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Bernier_The_Boats Alec Brownscombe Burtonboy Theoretically it wouldn’t detract from any variety or opinion, it would just organize discussion differently.

  • Waiting4LSC

    After a bad game, a lot of professionals mentally want to get back out and exercise the demons. Here is an opportunity, but are the Leafs mentally equipped. They certainly can’t be confident with board play, opponent pinching and clearing the zone. They can’t be confident holding a lead when their shot count is lacking. IMO taking back control requires aggressive physical play (staying out the box kind), and a cycling, attack the net, pucks on net approach. Leafs have got to want to win, to play hard for 60 minutes. We will need a 4th line to play good minutes to keep the top lines fresher and fast. Can we win? Hell yes! Can Miller be our nemesis? Hell yes! Time puck a team where it hurts, in the twine.

  • Bernier_The_Boats

    To Colorado – Barb Underhill
    To Toronto – Francois Allaire

  • wendelsway1

    Bernier_The_Boats LOL…..No way, Jose  :)

  • Bernier_The_Boats

    This is a joke….I don’t really mean it

  • MaxwellHowe

    hoolihan MaxwellHowe I know, but we’re sacrificing a spot in the lineup for McLaren

  • wendelsway1

    Bernier_The_Boats I know….which is why I lol’ed and smiled…..if I thought you were serious, you would have gotten another reply  :)