Toronto carries a three-game winning streak back to the Air Canada Centre tonight where they will meet the Philadelphia Flyers.
Like the Leafs, the Flyers are on a tear. Despite starting the season with three straight losses, they’ve collected seven out of a possible eight points since. Danny Briere, like Phil Kessel, scored one of his patented wrist-shot-from-the-slot goals to win the game against Carolina Saturday and will look to build on it after a slow start. Jakub Voracek is also running hot with five points in his last four games. Brayden Schenn added a goal and two assists in the win Saturday night.
At the centre of each team’s success has been the steadiness in net. Ilya Bryzgalov has had an impressive season thus far after taking a ton of heat in last year’s playoff run. He’s posted a .921 save percentage with a 2.27 goals against average in 11 games.
For the Leafs, James Reimer has yet to slip up once this year. He boasts an impressive .929 save percentage through nine games. He seems to be getting better with every contest. This couldn’t be more evident in Saturday’s destruction of the Habs at the Bell Centre. Never mind the fact he stopped all 37 shots he faced, he made more than a few jaw-dropping saves to preserve the goose-egg.
The performance he put on in Montreal could make a case for the best goaltending Leaf fans have seen in Toronto since Ed Belfour. He’ll need to take the momentum from that game into tonight where he’ll play the very team that effectively retired Eddie the Eagle in the Eastern Conference Semi-finals almost nine years ago.
Scott Hartnell is on the Flyers’ injured reserve along with defensemen Andrej Meszaros, Matt Walker and Marc-Andre Bourdon.
The Leafs will still be without Joffrey Lupul for tonight’s tilt while Carl Gunnarsson has also been placed on IR with a sore hip. But speculation suggests this move may have been made in anticipation of Mike Brown returning to the lineup, who has been out with a shoulder injury.
In spite of three-straight wins, there is a catch. Those wins came away from the ACC, where the Leafs are a dismal 1-4 and where Kessel has yet to find the back of the net.
On the bright side, the Flyers have been atrocious on the road, recording only one win in six games. In those five losses, they were outscored 18-6. The Flyers’ recent success came at home and they will begin a four-game road trip tonight in Toronto.
So while both teams have caught fire in the past week, they still have to switch gears and try to carry that success into tonight.