The last placed Carolina Hurricanes visit the Air Canada Centre tonight without leading scorer Jeff Skinner, who is out with a likely concussion. Skinner is the only Cane with more than 19 points to his name this season.
New head coach Kirk Muller is 1-6 since replacing Paul Maurice behind the bench in late November as the Canes continue to sit bottom five in all the major statistical categories. There’s rarely such a thing as an easy game nowadays but this is a tilt you really should take two points from.
James Reimer starts in net for the Leafs. In a weird turn of events, recently the team has been winning in front of Gustavsson and losing in front of Reimer. Gustavsson is 5-1 in his last six outings with a 2.31 GAA and a .929 save percentage, and has posted a very respectable 9-5 record on the season. An interesting stat from Jonas Siegel – the team has scored 3.85 goals per game in front of Gustavsson after scoring merely 2.23 last season. This team has been a higher scoring outfit, no doubt, but there’s got to be some element to it of improved confidence and trust from his teammate.
The coaching staff has kept the long term in mind here by starting Reimer. Optimus Reim has admitted himself he has not felt completely up to speed yet since returning from an 18-game layoff due to concussion, and as much as practices help the only way to get back there is through game action. Good on Gus for pushing his way into the question, but getting your number one back to speed remains priority #1.
Cam Ward starts for the Canes.
Lastly, a funny (in a Three Stooges kind of way) picture via HF Boards. This was during their 5 on 3 penalty kill on Friday night by the way:
After allowing six powerplay goals against in their last two games, the Leafs will experiment with some new personnel on the PK tonight, at least with one new face in Colby Armstrong. The quantity of penalties taken has been out of control in those two games, so taking some pressure off the PK with a more disciplined game will be key.