Team Records: Leafs – 7-4-0 vs. Penguins – 7-3-0
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Lineup Update: No Bozak tonight, who didn’t finish last night’s game due to a lower back injury. The Leafs four centers will be Kadri, Bolland, McClement and Smith. Big chance for the Leafs‘ real number one center next to Kessel tonight.


Three losses in their last four, and only about 40 minutes of good hockey (versus Anaheim) in that stretch, has left me uneasy going into tonight’s tilt against the 7-3 Pittsburgh Penguins.

What would be magnificent is if the Leafs came out with a decent first 20 minutes as a starting point. The Leafs have been outshot 121 to 92 and outscored 10-7 in first periods. They’ve been out shot 58-25 in the first period of their last five games. This habit is something that could sink the Leafs early against a team with the offensive repertoire of the Penguins.

Last night’s loss again had Carlyle referring to team identity and his group straying from what he liked about last season in terms of the team’s physicality and work rate. It’s something that is clearly eating at the coach, and Jay McClement echoed Carlyle’s sentiment that there hasn’t been that same consistency to their game yet;  in seeing Clarkson play last night, even if he didn’t get much accomplished, the team should take a refresher course from his determined pursuit to be first to pucks.

The Leafs were 1-1-1 against the Penguins last season, and save for a 3-1 loss in March, had success producing offence against the Penguins with 10 goals in three games. The Leafs didn’t have Lupul for any of those games except the first 9 minutes of the 5-2 win in January before he left the game with a broken forearm.

There is very little chance Lupul plays tonight; it sounds like Lupul has to get his foot checked out again now that the swelling has gone down to find out if the injury is something more serious.

Josh Leivo was returned to the Marlies after playing only 7 minutes last night. Carter Ashton, who has two goals in two games in the AHL, has been called up in his place.

James Reimer’s first game since October 15 vs. Minnesota will come in this second half of a back to back against one of the league’s consistently great offenses. He’s probably going to have to be great for the Leafs to win tonight.

Lastly, there is nothing that takes the fun out of watching the Leafs on Saturday night than the Leafs getting soundly beat while Hughson, Healy and Simpson excitedly spout verbal diarrhea about all of the team’s problems. Making matters worse, tonight’s broadcast will include long raptures about the wonderful way in which Sidney Crosby ties his skates. Please, Leafs, put on a good showing tonight.

GF/G3.18 (9th)3.30 (3rd)
GA/G2.64 (14th)2.40 (7th)
SF/G26.6 (27th)32.5 (5th)
SA/G34.5 (27th)25.5 (3rd)
PP26.2% (5th)18.9% (16th)
PK86.4% (6th)77.8% (24th)
5 on 5 F/A1.05 (13th)1.22 (10th)
Sh%11.9% (2nd)10.2% (8th)
Sv%92.4% (6th)90.6% (21st)
FO%43.7 (29th) (lol)56.4 (2nd)
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Alec Brownscombe is the founder and editor of, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He's published five magazines on the team entitled "The Maple Leafs Annual" with distribution in Chapters and newsstands across the country. He also co-hosted "The Battle of the Atlantic," a weekly show on TSN1200 that covered the Leafs and the NHL in-depth. Alec is a graduate of Trent University and Algonquin College with his diploma in Journalism. In 2014, he was awarded Canada's Best Hockey Blogger honours by Molson Canadian. You can contact him at