The Toronto Maple Leafs hit the ice for the first time since their 7-3 trouncing of the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday. Tonight’s game in Pittsburgh is the third and final matchup between the two teams this season. The Leafs won the first one 4-1, but fell to the Penguins in a shootout by a score of 6-5 back on November 27.
That win for the Pens was the start of a very good stretch for the team. They’ve won eight of their last nine games, and own a comfortable eight-point lead over the Washington Capitals for first place in the Metropolitan Division. Marc-Andre Fleury will likely get the start for the Pens. The much-maligned goaltender has played well this season, putting up a .924 save percentage in 28 games. (His games started number is third in the league among goaltenders.)
In the other crease, Jonathan Bernier is likely to get his fourth start in the last five games. He still owns a .925 save percentage (compared to fellow Leaf goalie James Reimer’s .928), but has struggled lately, finishing only one game in his last nine with a save percentage above .900. Frankly, I’m baffled by the decision to go with Bernier instead of Reimer tonight.
Six Penguins are out with injuries tonight, including defensemen Paul Martin, Rob Scuderi and Brooks Orpik. Forward James Neal (who has 20 points in 16 games) will sit out the fourth game of his five-game suspension. Stars Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang are both listed as questionable. You can see their lineup is pretty depleted in Jeff’s preview. The Leafs would seem to have the advantage in this regard, but then again, I hear that Sidney Crosby guy is pretty good (10 points in his last six games).
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