The last time the Leafs played the New York Islanders at the ACC, they did everything but win. Despite the fact that the Leafs had a whopping 61 shots on net, they still lost 4-3 in overtime, as Dwayne Roloson turned in a career performance and made 58 saves. Roloson will most likely get the start tonight, after sitting out Tuesday night’s 6-2 beating at the hands of the slumping Flyers.
Toronto will be looking to win consecutive home games for the first time all season, and after Monday’s performance against Atlanta, they should be feeling pretty confident. The next stretch of games will be crucial for the Leafs, and they will need to start winning at home if they hope to have any chance of competing for a playoff spot later this season. Seven of the next 10 games come at home, including games against every team in the Northeast Division. The Leafs currently sit in dead last in the Northeast, trailing Montreal by 7 points and division leader Boston by 10. No division is going to put all five teams into the playoffs, so Toronto will have to make up some serious ground in the near future, and this home stretch is the first step in doing so.
Assuming Roloson isn’t wearing his Superman cape again tonight, the Leafs should be in position to get another valuable two points. They held rookie sensation John Tavares pointless in his last visit to his hometown, and will hope to do so again tonight. They will also need to keep a close eye on Matt Moulson, who leads the Isles with 14 goals. Vesa Toskala will likely get the start for the Leafs after turning in his first acceptable performance in recent memory on Monday.
Hopefully, the rest of the team will play the same way they did on Monday. The defense did a great job of punishing Atlanta’s forwards almost every time they entered the zone. Luke Schenn, in particular, has picked up his physical play as of late, with at least two or three big hits in each of the last few games. Schenn took alot of flak early in the season, but seems to be jumping out of his early season sophomore slump. He has drastically improved his +/- rating lately, going +1 in all but one of the last 7 games. He was -1 in last Monday’s shutout loss to the Sabres.
Puck drops at 7:00 tonight, and I’ll be streaming the game live online at www.stream2watch.com. The site has been a great find, since it’s almost impossible to find Leaf games on TV here in the States. There’s always a good number of Toronto fans in the chatroom, and the stream is usually pretty smooth. GO LEAFS!