Maple Leafs vs. Red Wings Preview: Big Week Starts Tonight

NHLI via Getty Images

What a string of hugely important games for the Maple Leafs  this week, starting tonight in Detroit. The Leafs will play the Lightning and Canadiens in their next two games, who are tied for 2nd in the Atlantic Division at one point ahead of Toronto. A good week here puts the Leafs in position to take sole possession of second in the Atlantic; a bad week puts the Leafs’ current wildcard spot in jeopardy. *Dun dun dun*

The Red Wings lineup has a strong Grand Rapids flavour to it as it has all season with the injuries Detroit has experienced. No Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Weiss, Helm, Anderson, Cleary, Jurco, Samulesson or Gustavsson. Bertuzzi is questionable. Unsurprisingly, the Red Wings are second in the League with 333 man games lost to injury this season. (For those curious, the Leafs are 14th in the League with 206 man-games lost).

The glut of Wings’ injuries have been at forward, as their defence core is fully healthy at the moment. That’s probably of little consolation to Babcock, who has been trotting out this lineup of late:

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Photo: Daily Faceoff

James Reimer is expected to start in net for the Leafs. He’s only played the Red Wings twice in his career, both losses. Most recently (just before Christmas), he was pulled after the first period against Detroit after letting in three goals on twelve shots. He wasn’t happy about it, but pucks were definitely going “through” him in the opening 20 and the Leafs did manage to salvage a point afterward.

Jimmy Howard will start for the Red Wings (1-1-1 all time vs. the Leafs).

The Maple Leafs could opt to dress Peter Holland, as he was healthy and available to them on Sunday but Carlyle opted to move McClement onto line three to start the game (there was a tonne of shuffling once the Leafs went down 3-0). Between the 7D set up and Carter Ashton playing 2 minutes, the Leafs had five forwards play over 20 minutes on Sunday. Is that something Carlyle should be replicating throughout this flurry of games down the stretch?

The Red Wings trail the Leafs by seven points but hold two games in hand going into tonight. The season series sits at 1 shootout win to 1 shootout loss for both teams.

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Alec Brownscombe is the founder of, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He was also the editor of the 2009-12 Maple Leafs Annuals. You can contact him at [email protected]
  • Jon5200

    Seems like every game is a HUGE 2pts…………really want this one because the habs are going down to colorado tonite:)))

  • Loric76

    Jon5200  agreed, time to put some games between us and the Montreal…Tampa too

  • Benny8TheGreat

    Hey guys,  I’m down in Florida and am suffocating from lack of Leaf viewing. Any idea where I could watch tonights game online? Thanks.

  • mbails

    just finished The Leaf episode 6. Gotta love a guy like D’amigo. Hope he finds a role on this team next season.

  • Jay31

    At the WC1 spot right now, we’d be facing the Pens in the 1st round. I don’t mind that matchup at all.

    Assuming the Pens dont win the conference (Bruins are 5 pts ahead of them at this point), I don’t mind the Leafs finishing the season in their current spot. Beating the Pens and staying in the Metro division for the second round? Sounds good to me.

    I’d also be ok with them finishing 2nd in the division to get home ice and face either the Lightning or Habs.

  • vinoa

    Benny8TheGreat  Try Google. That kind of stuff is frowned upon in these parts. Could get the guys running it into hot water and we should avoid that.

  • Jon5200

    mbails still like him on our 4th line….

  • Jay31

    12 games on the docket tonight.. most I’ve seen in a while

  • Benny8TheGreat

    vinoa Benny8TheGreat  Understandable. Though the fact that I pay Rogers the amount that I do every month, I should be more than entitled to watch from the bottom of the ocean for free if I really wanted to. Thieving bastards!

  • mbails

    Jon5200 mbails  yup. is he killing penalties with the marlies? i think he’s got potential there to be PK2 guy. no reason he can’t put 8-10 minutes a game in next season. Hopefully this season is extra motivation for him to train even harder to  make the next step and be a full time NHLer