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.
Coming off a (hmm, how can I put this nicely?) less than stellar game Saturday, I fully expect James Reimer to play a strong game tonight, as he has only lost back-to-back starts once this season. Don’t get me wrong, the team in front of him needs to respond as well and show us that they are indeed,Â much improved.
The Leafs will also need a strong game from Mikhail Grabovski, or Crosbovski, as Colby Armstrong calls him. The Russian Sidney Crosby has only one goal in the last nine games. Incidentally, it has been nine games since Grabovski’s two-concussion/goal game against the Bruins.
Phil Kessel has nine goals and four assists in his last 11 games against the Islanders.
Matt Moulson has scored in all three meetings this season.
The eigth-place Sabres will be without Thomas Vanek (flu) tonight against the Penguins, who are expected to have Sidney Crosby Evgeni Malkin Chris Kunitz back.
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