Fresh off a well-earned, win-or-bust victory in Carolina last night, the Maple Leafs face yet another must-win scenario this evening as they pay a visit to the lowly Florida Panthers.
In what will be a bit of a blast from the past, Jean-Sebastien Giguere will get his first start in the Toronto goal since February 12th, while James Reimer, having started 13 games in a row and 25 of 35 since January 1st, receives a much-deserved night off.
Update: James Reimer will get the start despite hints to the contrary. Joffrey Lupul will slide to the third line while Tyler Bozak will center a line with Kadri and Kessel on the wings (too much of the same?). Should be interesting. Grabovski is wearing a well-deserved 'A' in Armstrong's absence.
The situation is this: the New Jersey Devils continued their miraculous leap up the standings with another two points last night, surpassing .500 and tying the Leafs on points with a game more to play (not even mad, just impressed). Carolina defeated Buffalo in regulation meaning the Leafs stand six back of the eighth-placed Sabres and four back of Carolina, even on games with both teams. The Leafs win and they're two back of Carolina and four back of Buffalo with a matchup against the Sabres left on the schedule. They lose and any remaining playoff aspirations are squashed. That simple. [more…]
With the Leafs looking to stay within distance of the eighth and final playoff spot, tonight sees the team hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bolts have given the Leafs all kinds of headaches this year, as they look to close out the season series with a 4-0 sweep.
While the Lightning's slight struggles recently make this is a very winnable game for the home-side, it's also a crucial must win regardless - the ground made up by the Leafs on Saturday night was quickly taken away in the form of a Sabres win yesterday.
Right now the Leafs sit six points behind both Buffalo and New York, while holding a game in hand on the Rangers.
Toronto simply cannot allow the Rangers or Sabres an opportunity to put eight points between them and the postseason at this point.
Six points out of the last playoff spot in the East with only fifteen games to go. The Maple Leafs have their backs against the wall and now it's time for one of the league's youngest teams to grow up...and quickly.
Tonight's matchup against the seventh place Sabres could be the biggest game of the year to this point and there is no doubt that the team must come away with two points in hand if they want to stay within striking distance of the eighth seed. Sjostrom is out with an upper-body injury and will be replaced on the fourth line by Jay Rosehill, while James Reimer will once again start between the pipes for the Buds. It should be a good one.
Your Toronto Maple Leafs are in action tonight against the no-pronged attack of the Philadelphia Flyers.Â Despite the absence of Pronger, the Leafs will be in tough against the deepest and possibly most balanced defense in the league.Â Optimus Reim will make his 12th consecutive start for the buds who are hoping to break out of a 2 game skid while the Flyers will counter with Brian Boucher.Â The game can be seen on Leafs TV at 7pm tonight.
The Maple Leafs and James Reimer look to bounce back tonight against the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum (7pm, Sportsnet Ontario). The Leafs are 5-1-1 in their last seven road games and have earned at least one point in all three meetings with the Isles this season (2-0-1).
Especially with the lack of outside help the Leafs have been receiving, anything less than two points tonight would be devastating to the Maple Leafs' chances of playing hockey in mid-April. Important to note is that the Islanders are the third best team in the Eastern Conference since December 15, behind only Boston and New Jersey in points since that date, and have been even better since Al Montoya took over the reigns in net. He's 5-2-2 with a 1.33 GAA and a .931 SV% since being acquired from Phoenix in exchange for a sixth round draft choice. [more…]
You know Toronto is close to their playoff goals when the mainstream media begins to reluctantly acknowledge it's (slightly) more than just a pipedream of starved Leafs fans. Â Their push will be challenged tonight by the streaking Blackhawks, the epitome of a talented young squad, a team whose recent success Toronto is looking to emulate. Â Both teams will come into this contest hungry for points as the regular season winds down and the playoff picture becomes progressively more crowded. Â With a Buffalo win over Philadelphia earlier today, the Leafs will need these points to keep pace and close ground on the Rangers and Hurricanes. Â While Chicago is fresh off a victory over said Hurricanes, there will be no letup in a team that sits fourth in the Western Conference, considering they are but four points up on the eleventh-placed Minnesota Wild. Â If the Leafs can buck the usual listlessness they display on Saturday nights (4-9-4 on HNIC this season), this will be a good one, as neither team is ready to quit.
Lineup Note: Good news for the Leafs - leading-scorer Jeff Carter won't go for the Flyers tonight due to flu like symptoms. Carcillo is suffering the same illness and also won't play.
With the 3-2 overtime win over Pittsburgh last night, the Maple Leafs surpassed .500 for the first time since November 2, when a 3-2 loss to the Senators completed the erasure of the Leafs' 4-0 start. The bad news is the Leafs are the traveling team playing the second half of a back-to-back against a President's Trophy competitor in the Philadelphia Flyers.Â The good news about tonight is that eighth and ninth placed teams Carolina and Buffalo will square off, meaning lost points (hopefully plural) for one of the two nearmost teams in the standings. [more…]
Despite the Maple Leafs current 7-game point streak where they have gone 4-0-3, they currently sit six points back of the final playoff spot in the East. The Leafs got no help from the Panthers and Rangers last night, as the Hurricanes and Sabres both earned victories. The Leafs will look to improve their playoff chances by 2.0 percent to 5.9 with a win tonight over the Penguins. (TSN, 7pm)
Burke has allowed the group that has gotten the Leafs into striking distance of the playoffs carry the mantle the rest of the way by standing pat at the deadline; beginning tonight we'll see what this group is really capable of. This is the type of situation the likes of Luke Schenn, Keith Aulie, Carl Gunnarsson, Mikhail Grabovski, Darryl Boyce and Tim Brent have never been a part of and it should be a good experience just being in a playoff-like atmosphere down the stretch. [more…]
Marlies Update: The Marlies couldn't solve Moose netminder Eddie Lack, who turned away all 33 shots in a 1-0 Moose victory. Nazem Kadri mixed it up in two separate scrums late in the contest. Gotta love the fire. Gustavsson stopped 29 of 30 but did kick out a juicy rebound on the game winner. Tough loss.
It's quite a lineup for the Blue and White enthusiast today as the Leafs and their farm team play a double header with playoff implications. At 5 p.m. the Leafs kick off their second game in under 24 hours against the eleventh placed Atlanta. With a win the Leafs pull within three of eighth placed Carolina and distance themselves by three from their opponent. With a regulation loss, they'd fall back to eleventh and remain five back of Carolina with no games in hand. [more…]
What was once a distant dream now appears to be inching closer to reality. Â The Toronto Maple Leafs, considered by many in pre-season polls to be among the NHL's worst teams, are right in the thick of the playoff hunt, and look to continue to defy the logic and keep the run going against the banged up Pittsburgh Penguins tonight on Hockey Night In Canada.
The Maple Leafs continue their unlikely push for a playoff spot tonight when they host the Penguins. Â Not only are the Leafs defying expectations, but they're doing it despite being active sellers through the start of February. [more…]
This meeting of two age old rivals in Montreal sets up to be a goaltending duel if recent history and the stats column are any indication. The Maple Leafs and Canadiens reside in bottom five in the league in goals for and accordingly two or three goals have been enough for the two points in the four meetings so far this season. Unfortunately only Grabovski has been able to incite any boos out of the Ole-ing faithful in Montreal as the Blue and White have been shutout in both visits to the Bell Centre this season. James Reimer told reporters today this game had definite playoff vibes to it; it'd certainly be a huge two points in a building that's been a fortress for the Habs, who boast a 19-7-6 record at home. [more…]