Game Preview: Gleason debuts as Leafs seek home-ice rebound

Game Preview: Gleason debuts as Leafs seek home-ice rebound

Photo: Getty Images

Preview: Toronto Maple Leafs vs New York Islanders

The Toronto Maple Leafs’ first blowout loss of the season came at home to the Columbus Blue Jackets back on November 25, a game much like Saturday night’s in that the team was plainly outworked from puck drop. After getting booed off the ice, the Maple Leafs were probably happy to take to the road for the three games afterward. Booed after each period en route to a 7-1 loss to the Rangers and apologizing after the game on Saturday, the Leafs won’t get the same reprieve tonight. With a tenuous hold on the final wildcard spot, the Leafs will need to bounce back on home ice against a team they should be able to beat in the New York Islanders.

Like the Rangers on Saturday, the Islanders will enter tonight playing the second game of a back to back. Unlike their New York counterparts, who were coming off a whopping at the hands of the Penguins, the Islanders are entering on a high note having dropped a touchdown on the Dallas Stars last night, a game featuring a hat-trick, five-point performance from John Tavares. Let’s hope the Islanders and JT are all goal-ed and points-ed out for tonight’s meeting.

Dion Phaneuf and Carl Gunnarsson (and Nikolai Kulemin, who bodychecked Tavares face first into the referee’s groin) kept Tavares quiet in the Leafs-Islanders first meeting of the 2013-14 season. At the time, the Leafs were coming off a stretch in which they scored only eight goals in their previous six games before putting five past Kevin Poulin on only 24 shots. Two of which were outrageous snipes by Phil Kessel, who has five points in his last two games vs. the Islanders.

Carl Gunnarsson won’t be in the lineup for the Leafs tonight, and it looks like Tim Gleason will receive a sink or swim opportunity on the team’s top pairing next to Dion Phaneuf, at least to start the game. This is a shutdown pair we would have been really excited about in 2011-12, but where Gleason’s game is at is an unknown at best. With Gunnarsson out, pairing Gleason with the team’s most dependable defenceman could be a bold but clever move in helping Gleason find his footing in Toronto, or it could be an experiment that ends quickly and with a dismissive giggle. It will be interesting to monitor. Jake Gardiner and Morgan Rielly both played some shifts beside Phaneuf in the blowout loss to the Rangers; If Gunnarsson is out for more than this game, Gardiner and Phaneuf spending 25 minutes together throughout a game might be worth looking at.

David Clarkson is unlikely to play with his banged up foot after blocking a shot in the Rangers game. Clarkson played one of his better games of the season in the November 19 meeting with the Islanders, scoring his first goal as a Maple Leaf after a night of strong work on the forecheck. The remarkable part of it is that Carter Ashton, he of nearly a goal per game with the Marlies, hasn’t received a call up. It seems Fraser McLaren will play if Clarkson can’t go.

The Leafs have four games coming up vs. the Islanders, Hurricanes, Capitals and Devils, who have a combined record of 70 – 72 – 30. Points have to start adding up. In the lead up to the Olympic break starting in a month tomorrow, the Leafs will play 17 games over 30 days in a stretch of schedule that is not difficult in terms of strength of competition. We should have a pretty good idea of where this team stands come the Break.

Jonathan Bernier will start his sixth straight for the Leafs. Given he got the yank after five goals against in the first 35 minutes the last time out, here’s your brutally obvious statement of the day: Jonathan Bernier is Carlyle’s starting goaltender.

297 comments
JR from Halifax
JR from Halifax

So I thought I would take the dog for a nice walk before the game.....he hits a patch of ice and falls (his first winter, 7 month old black lab)


Anyway being the dick I am I laugh at him....he was fine. I hit the same patch and go down like a ton of bricks, thought I broke my fucking kneecap.......that's how much of a fucking homer simpson I am, in case anyone was wondering.


Edit...thanks for the most likes any of my post have received....EVER.....assholes ;) 

Black_Hawk
Black_Hawk

I can see CAN not winning anything this olympics (hockey team that is)

juliesucks
juliesucks

Haven't been able to post all day because I got castrated. Really like the Team Canada roster. I couple picks I didn't like at first...Carter, Marleau, & Kunitz, but the more I think about it I see what they're doing...big, strong and fast.

NotSince67
NotSince67

Have a good one boys, I'll be PVRing the game so I'll probably end up a few hours behind.

Once again, GTHL Top Prospects game tonight, 7:30 at Herb Carnagie Arena. Mikey McLeod will be worth the $6 for admission

maple1967leafs
maple1967leafs

I'm wondering what words Joe Thorton and Claude Giroux  can't spell   :)

Luke_R
Luke_R

Keeper league question:

Seth Jones for Derek Stepan... who wins?

ingy56
ingy56

@Murph2417 I think the prudent thing to do is take a young goaltender over to experience the event and set the stage for 4 years later. If that goaltender was Bernier, all the better. 

vinoa
vinoa

@lukethenuke Depends on what you're looking for. I'd say Stepan just because of his situation.

newkb
newkb

@Loric76 Sweet, who are the big guys in the white and blue?

ingy56
ingy56

@Loric76 Apparently in WW 2, they used to detain German prisoners of war in camps in Northern Ontario. A group of them escaped in May and came back on their own hours later...blackfly season. 

Mind Bomb
Mind Bomb

Never heard that one, what album is it on ? :)

The_Polish_Cannon
The_Polish_Cannon

@ingy56 @Loric76 I did some work at the mill in Espanola and they have a world map hung up at the mill that was drawn by memory of a german aviator POW. It's amazing how accurate and detailed it is. During the war POWs housed at the old mill

ingy56
ingy56

@The_Polish_Cannon @ingy56 @Loric76 I read that when they were released some were hesitant to return to Germany because between the Red Cross Parcels and the food and housing delivered to them here they were treated better here than back home. How very Canadian of us.