Morning Mashup: Tough test starts tonight

Karl B DeBlaker/Associated Press

Leafs Nation is feeling a little down on its luck with the injuries to resurgent starter James Reimer and one of our point-a-game youngsters off the third line, Matt Frattin (while Joffrey Lupul and Carl Gunnarsson remain shelved). Given the busy schedule, two major contributors to the Leafs‘ 8-5-0 start will be out for what could amount to half a dozen games, as the Leafs play six games in the coming ten days starting tonight in Carolina.

Both injuries seem to be set in the 7-10 day range, so it could certainly be worse, and maybe the Leafs will get lucky and neither will miss all of those six upcoming games. This was already going to be a tough little test for the team, and it would be an especially challenging stint if the recovery time winds up less than best-case, particularly when it comes to James Reimer. Reimer won’t be back for the upcoming stretch of four games in six days between the 16th and 21st, possibly longer. Scrivens will really need to rise to the occasion and Carlyle may also find himself in a situation where he looks to Jussi Rynnas for a start.

As for the loss of Frattin, Kadri has been great but it’s hard to envision the third line continuing to provide its amazing “secondary” production without him. The first line will need to stay hot and the second line will have to pick it up a little, particularly its pivot in Grabovski; at least from an offensive standpoint, as he is pointless in his last eight.

As with many unfortunate situations in life, there’s others out there who have it worse. Like our provincial rivals, who have lost both Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson for months. Moreover, one redeeming factor for the Leafs might be the strength of opponents in this upcoming flurry of games. Ottawa could start reeling after the loss of their Norris Trophy winning point-a-game defenceman (already missing their point-a-game 1C). We play them twice, on consecutive upcoming Saturdays. On paper, the stiffest test is tonight’s opponent in Carolina. Tampa Bay, much like the Sharks in the West, has fallen off in a big way after an amazing start, Florida is bottom feeding so far, and we’ve beat the underachieving Flyers handily already. There’s rarely such a thing as an easy game in the NHL, though, especially when you’re without your starting goaltender.

Thursday morning links…

Be sure to enter the MLHS free one-night fantasy contest for this Friday.
$200 in cash prizes available.

From Declan yesterday, Phil Kessel’s agent Wade Arnott says Kessel loves Toronto and wants to be here long term.

Long jam on D
Chemmy looks at the situation on the Leafs blueline once Gunnarsson and Gardiner return.

Marlies/Bulldogs end season series
Marlies‘ loss last night leaves them in 8th, only two ahead of the ninth placed team in the West. They do have games in hand, but they’re obviously, predictably, feeling the effects of losing the majority of their core. Hopefully they can hang in there because they could get some help from the junior ranks come playoff time.

The report with video on Karlsson’s serious achilles injury. early preview for the Canes and Leafs.

Mounting injuries will test surprising Maple Leafs
From Jonas Siegel.

Maple Leafs’ defensive scheme Devlish in design
Good stuff from Mirtle with a shot distance chart that seems to confirm the Leafs are limiting more shots to the perimeter, particularly on the PK.

Senators want fewer Maple Leafs, Canadiens fans in the building
DGB nails this one: