(On the road … so here is a quick thread for tonight’s action.)
The Toronto Maple Leafs (21-33-12), who are coming off a hard-fought overtime win over the Boston Bruins, are host to the Tampa Bay Lightning (27-27-11), tonight at 7pm.
The Leafs, who are all but officially out of the playoff race, are playing for jobs next season. To that end, the young players on the roster have put together a string of impressive efforts, and if their resilient play continues, few players will anonymously refer to them as an “AHL team”.
- The Leafs are sporting a 2-2-1 record since the Olympic Break ended, including three overtime games (2 wins).
- The Lightning, meanwhile have gone 1-6 in their past 7 games, with three one-goal losses and 34 goals allowed (4.86 GAA) during that span.
- Steven Stamkos has emerged as a superstar this season, and is currently in the midst of a 17-game point streak, during which time he has recorded an astounding 16 goals and 15 assists.
- Ron Wilson continues to alternate his goaltenders. J-S Giguere gets the start tonight, with Jonas Gustavsson expected to go Saturday against Edmonton.
- Francois Beauchemin missed practice yesterday (suspected flu), but is expected to play tonight.
- Lost in the team’s struggles this season is the excellent development of Nikolai Kulemin and Carl Gunnarsson.Â Gunnarsson in particular looked great in the rookie camp last fall, and has translated that success into a full-time job as a smart, steady defender with offensive upside.Â Kulemin has added a physical element to his game, which has made a world of difference to his becoming a legitimate top six forward.