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The third of four episodes spans from the shootout win over Phoenix to the shootout loss at the hands of the Rangers before the Christmas break (after which Joffrey Lupul is followed while Christmas shopping and James van Riemsdyk and his family are featured in their annual Christmas shinny game). The centerpiece of the episode is, naturally, the first meeting of the season between the Wings and Leafs.
Who all is up at the crack of dawn for the Frederik Gauthier viewing party, MLHS? Team Canada takes on Team Germany in the opening game of the 2014 World Juniors this morning at 7:30 a.m. EST on TSN.
There’s only three returning players for Canada from last year’s tournament, one of which is suspended for the first three games (Griffin Reinhart) and one of the other two was Canada’s third goalie last tourney (Jake Paterson). The third is Jonathan Drouin.
Canada’s defence has some question marks especially with Griffin Reinhart suspended. The Leafs needed to keep Morgan Rielly and Hockey Canada brass opted to leave Darnell Nurse in Sault Ste. Marie.
The Red Wings’ third round pick in 2012, Jake Paterson is expected to start in net, getting the nod over Montreal’s Zachary Fucale at least for game 1.
Expect Brent Sutter to lean on Gauthier in a penalty killing role. We’ll be curious to see how much and in what other capacities Sutter will use Gauthier, who he called a “warrior” during Team Canada’s camp in Lake Placid back in August. He’s expected to play an a line with Josh Anderson, a 19-year-old undrafted winger from the London Knights.
Fabrice Herzog and Andreas Johnson will face off for Team Switzerland and Team Sweden later on in the day at 1 p.m.
James Reimer is the “likely” starter in net after calling his team out following the Florida loss. Reimer had been in net for two consecutive back to back situations where his team came out completely flat. Hopefully he gets a better effort in front of him tonight.
Our friends at Winging It In Motown and in the Detroit blogosphere (the Delvecchiosphere? Gordosphere?) also have a generous streak and they’ve asked us, along with a number of other teams, to help them in fundraising in the lead up to the Winter Classic. They have a fun way of raising money during games and I’ll let @jennyquarx explain:
Carlyle: “We didn’t have enough of a compete level in the 50/50 battles.”
“I’d agree with that description [embarrassing].”
Phaneuf: “I’ve got to be better. I made some mistakes tonight that are unacceptable.”
“We take pride in being a team that isn’t outworked. Tonight we were outworked…These are points you cannot get back.”
Reimer: “There’s never an excuse. Injuries, tired, it’s all BS. Those are excuses and they’re useless.”
ST. LOUIS, MO - DECEMBER 12: TheSt. Louis Blues celebrate a goal during an NHL game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on December 12, 2013 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Mark Buckner/NHLI via Getty Images)
Placing Tyler Bozak on Long Term Injured Reserve freed up the cap space to call up defenceman John Michael Liles on Friday.
Trying out someone with his puck moving ability and experience on the backend couldn’t hurt based on how the team has been struggling to get out of their zone.
Liles has 13 points and is a plus-nine in 16 games in the AHL this season, and has been a favourite of head coach Steve Spott’s for taking the demotion so well and eagerly embracing a leadership role on a young Marlies team.
What does it mean for Morgan Rielly? Well, if he isn’t playing consistently come decision time for the World Juniors (December 19th), it’s hard to imagine him staying. The Team Canada option remains open. It will depend on the situation in a week and a half, one imagines.
The Sharks enter this game 18-3-5, and are 9-1-2 against fellow Pacific Division opponents, which is easily the strongest division in the NHL. They enter winners of five straight.
This is a dominant team with a deeeeep lineup.
How can the Leafs beat them? Well, it begins and ends between the pipes with James Reimer, one would think. The Leafs are shorthanded and are the inferior team, so the answer to closing the gap is cliched – ‘outwork them.’ Playing without the puck a lot, which is almost ensured, means ramping up the physical play will be necessary to try to create separation.
Hey, even the Sharks once had a 0-1-4 stretch once, right? These guys are human.
Nazem Kadri won’t play tonight in order to be with his family after the passing of his grandfather. Cody Franson is a game time decision.