The new-look Leafs take the ice for the first time tonight after a weekend that literally changed the face of the team. Newcomers Dion Phaneuf and JS Giguere will suit up in the Blue and White for the first time in their careers, and the full attention of Leaf Nation will undoubtedly be on this game. If nothing else, these trades have made the remaining games on the Leafs schedule at least worth watching from a point of talent evaluation, as well as the chance to deny Boston one of the top 3 picks in the entry draft this summer.
Toronto lost their last meeting with the Devils in overtime, after scoring 2 goals in the 3rd to tie the game and force the extra period. Giguere will get his first start as a Leaf tonight, after Gustavsson was pulled early in the teams’ last meeting. It will be interesting to see what kind of lines Wilson throws together after losing some of the most productive elements of the Leafs’ inept offense. According to Mike Augello, it probably will look something like this.
On D, Phaneuf has been skating with Francois Beachemin, Kaberle with Gunnarsson and Schenn with Exelby, who will likely get a decent amount of playing time over the coming weeks, as he has been seeking a trade. Hopefully, he plays well enough to attract some more interest.
Yann Danis will start in place of Martin Brodeur, so the Leafs’ new look offense won’t have to try and solve a Hall of Fame goalie in its first game, but the Devils still have one of the better defensive squads in the league. A win tonight would certainly look great for the Leafs, and could go a long way to adding some life into them for the rest of the season.