The Leafs head to the Buckeye state tonight as they take on the Columbus Blue Jackets (4-5-0). The Leafs will look to build on an inspired comeback win over the Anaheim Ducks. Columbus may not be of the same pedigree as Chicago and Anaheim, but they are a hot team, and they’ll look to extend their winning streak to three.
Jonathan Bernier is set to make his fourth start in a row tonight, as James Reimer is said to be suffering from the flu. Joffrey Lupul took a puck off the ankle in practice yesterday, and TSN’s Jonas Siegel has reported that he has a bone bruise and is walking with a slight limp. He did not skate for much of today’s practice, but did work out on a stationary bike. He will be a game-time decision. Randy Carlyle says that Josh Leivo will take Lupul’s spot if Lupul does not play. David Clarkson’s 10-game suspension is finally over, and he skated on a line with Mason Raymond and Dave Bolland in practice.
Reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky has seen a bit of a decline from his stellar play from last year, but is still posting a .921 save percentage and a 2.49 goals-against average. The Jackets’ offense is being led by Marian Gaborik, who has nine points in eight games. James Wisniewski has resurged to his past offensive form, scoring seven points in nine games.
Mason Raymond – Dave Bolland – David Clarkson
Fedor Tyutin – Daulton Prout
Ryan Murray – James Wisniewski
The game will be aired on LeafsTV at 7 o’clock ET.
Morgan Rielly will play his ninth game as a Leaf tonight. Randy Carlyle announced yesterday that Rielly will stay with the Leafs for the time being, so it’s unlikely this will be the last we see of the young defender.
David Clarkson is making his Leafs debut on the 47th birthday of his idol Wendel Clark.
Columbus, like the Leafs, has had problems this year limiting the number of shots faced, both teams are in the bottom-10 league-wide. We’ll see if the Leafs can exploit that and outshoot their opponents for once.
The Leafs will have to put extra effort into winning faceoffs this game. Columbus ranks eighth in the league at 52.2 per cent. The Leafs are 27th, winning just 44.7 per cent of their draws.
For more information on Columbus, check out Union and Blue.