Less than 24 hours after getting home from their trip to snowbound New Jersey, the Leafs take the ice tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes, who have beaten the Leafs the last four times they have played them at the ACC. However, the Hurricanes are on a three-game losing streak at the moment, and have been almost as bad as the Leafs on the powerplay of late, which should be welcome news to Jonas Gustavsson and the Leafs’ defense.
The Leafs’ lines have been juggled a bit since Monday, as Tim Brent came down sick and was replaced in the lineup by Joey Crabb. Crabb will play on the 2nd line with Kessel and Bozak, while Nazem Kadri will center the 4th line. James Reimer will back the Monster up again. The Canes are expected to answer with Cam Ward between the pipes, while the ever-dangerous Eric Staal leads the team’s offense. Staal has scored 16 goals and 34 points, both of which lead Carolina.
Ron Wilson better have a hell of a pre-game speech lined up if he wants to avoid seeing his team fall into an early hole like they have so many times in the past. The Leafs were delayed from heading back to Toronto until this morning, and immediately jumped on the ice for a brief practice when they got back. Knowing the Leafs like I do, any excuse for a poor performance is usually good enough for them, so let’s hope Wilson has them amped up tonight.