The Toronto Maple Leafs are back on the road tonight with a matchup against fellow Eastern bottomer Carolina Hurricanes. It will be a weekend of back to back games for the Leafs as they head home on Saturday to play host to the Detroit Red Wings (a game I will be liveblogging). But there is a significant question at hand for the Leafs heading into tonight’s game: Can a team aiming for the playoffs beat the worst team in the league?
Leafs fans have been waiting for John Mitchell to step up and start burying his opportunities to legitimize himself as a top 6 forward, where depth is lacking. At Wednesday’s practice, he received that opportunity and looks to excel at it as he was paired up with sniper Phil Kessel to establish some chemistry before Friday night’s matchup with the Carolina Hurricanes.
The following are the lineups for both teams tonight. The Leafs are going to get a closer look at their top 4 defensive pairings and check out the rest of the young guns competing for jobs.
The feeling as the Leafs embark on this year’s unrestricted free agency period is that Brian Burke is not enamored with the ’09 free agent class and will neither overpay in salary or term. It appears Burke’s focused on acquiring his high-end talent through trade.Â In regards to the long-rumoured Mike Cammalleri signing, the word right now is that he’s not on the radar although this is certainly subject to change should circumstances change.Â More likely, if Burke can move Kaberle and/or Kubina and sign Jonas Gustavsson, the approach will be to strengthen from the goal out and thus most money will be allotted to high-end D rather than forwards at this time.