After the Leafs pulled off a steal of a win over New Jersey last night, the Buds are in Washington, DC tonight hoping to chase down suddenly-within-reach home ice advantage for the playoffs. Should the Jets lose and the Leafs win tonight, mathematics say we can officially borrow against our homes and buy tickets to Leafs playoff games in May.
Last night’s win was something else, as the Leafs completed the season series sweep over the Devils. The Leafs frustrated the hell out of NJ with their ability to nab two late goals despite half (I’m being generous) the zone time throughout the game while the they blocked shot after shot and Reimer made save after save. Certainly a better effort will be required against a surging Capitals team with a shooting percentage in the top 10. Ben Scrivens will take over the nets in the back to back situation and can’t be asked to produce the type of display Optimus Reim put on at the ACC yesterday.
The Leafs may receive a major boost prior to game time, when Joffrey Lupul will make his decision as to whether or not he’ll play tonight. One imagines he would rejoin Nazem Kadri and Nikolai Kulemin if he does play given where the trio left off. Kadri and Lupul’s offensive talents and insta-chemistry combined with Kulemin’s workhorse element looked like a pretty much unstoppable unit.
The Leafs will win the season series regardless of tonight’s result thanks to a pair of 3-2 wins earlier in the season, but this is not the same Capitals team from late January and early February. The Capitals are seriously hot at the moment. They’ve won 7 straight and 12 of their last 14 en route to a likely Southeast Division crown. They have scored a whopping 49 goals over that span. Noted Leaf killer Alex Ovechkin has 24 points over his last 15 games. The Leafs cannot get outshot 2:1 and spend significant time in their own zone leaning on blocked shots and their goaltender tonight or they’re in for a reality check.