Tyler Bozak is expected to return to the top line between James van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel tonight as the Leafs close out a five-game homestand against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
As much as Dave Bolland was off to a great start for the Leafs in an expanded role, he has to be an afterthought for the team given the length of his recovery time. This is as healthy as the Leafs are going to get for a long time, so let’s hope to start seeing them play some of their best hockey.
The last time out against the Blue Jackets, exactly a month ago today, the Leafs fell 5-2 in David Clarkson’s debut game. The Leafs took way too many penalties, six throughout the game, and it seemed to repeatedly kill their momentum any time they had a good shift or two. A loss in the special teams battle proved costly as they conceded one powerplay goal and allowed a shorthanded goal in the third period. So did a few bad third-period turnovers leading directly to goals.
Overall, the move to the weaker East hasn’t changed much for the Blue Jackets, however, as they’re struggling in every major category. Much like baseball’s BJs, these guys are flaccid. They’re bottom 10 in goals for, goals against, five-on-five goal differential, powerplay, penalty kill, shots for and shots against. Losing Marian Gaborik for a month to six weeks with a knee injury won’t help them turn things around any time soon either.
Gotta be Startin’ Reimer:
The league’s save percentage leader, James Reimer, will get the start for the Leafs, his first pair of consecutive starts in the month of November. Saturday night’s 49-save performance was a statement game for Optimus and one he’ll look to build on tonight. One of the amazing stats kicking around Twitter after the game was the nugget that, of the 4 occasions a goalie has won while facing 49 shots or more since Reimer entered the league in January of 2010, Reimer was responsible for three of them.
Indeed, 50 shots is crazy, but the more bizarre part is that it’s not all that far out of the typical range of rubber Reimer has faced on a game by game basis this season. Here is the breakdown of the 8 games Reimer has played start to finish:
|@ BOS||L 1-3||60||0||1||2.01||33||0.939|
|@ VAN||L 0-4||60||0||1||4.00||47||0.915|
|@ EDM||W 4-0||60||1||0||0.00||43||1.000|
|@ MON||W 4-3||60||1||0||3.01||37||0.919|
40 shots per game on average. Bernier, in his 13 games played from start to finish, has averaged 33.5 shots against.
Maybe Reimer will get a reprieve tonight:
Reimer/Bernier might catch a break tonight. CBJ averaging 17.5 shots per-game on current road trip (2-2-0)
— Kevin Gibson (@TSNResearch) November 25, 2013
– Peter Holland and Paul Ranger are expected to sit. Meaning, Carlyle will stick with Raymond, McClement and Kulemin as his checking line and McLaren, Smithson and Orr as his fourth line. On D, Rielly will stay in the lineup on Fraser’s right.
|Left Wing||Center||Right Wing|
|Scratched: Holland, Smith|
|Left Defense||Right Defense|