21 days off felt as long as it sounds, but the Maple Leafs‘ 2013-14 regular season will begin rounding its final corner tonight in New York.
From the sounds of it, the Maple Leafs, after all the time off, may end up with the same lineup they left off with, more or less, tonight against the Isles. That could include Nikolai Kulemin at center along with Mason Raymond and Troy Bodie on line three, the usual top line and Lupul – Kadri – Clarkson on L2. Dave Bolland doesn’t sound ready to go just yet, but Trevor Smith is available and may factor into the lineup. Carter Ashton’s status isn’t clear.
It’s going to be a frantic race to the finish with 22 games in 45 days. The Leafs will need at least 21 points out of those 22 to ensure a playoff berth in April. Two points against the Tavares-less Islanders seems like a good place to start.
GAME DAY READING:
- Jerry D’Amigo has nine goals in his last 10 games, including a goal (and a nice assist) versus Binghamton yesterday. Think this guy could skate a regular shift in the NHL, maybe?
- That’s four straight wins for the Marlies, who are a remarkable 32-17-2 and running away with the North Division. The Marlies are third in the Western Conference with plenty of games in hand.
- James Mirtle on possible deadline sales by the Leafs. Nonis, as he did with Bozak, seems content to play wait and see with the UFAs.
- Damien Cox says the Leafs are likely to be quiet at the March 5 deadline. So might the whole league unless things (i.e. Kesler, St. Louis) pick up steam soon.
- Dave Bolland suffers a set back. The weekend seems to be the new target, but no guarantees.
- Saturday’s opponent, the Canadiens, may not have Carey Price in net. Picked up a lower-body injury at the team’s morning skate yesterday (day to day).
- Last night’s relevant game in the playoff race was, unfortunately, a three-pointer. Detroit beat Montreal in OT. Last night’s highlights: