After getting blown out by that other New York team on Saturday, the Toronto Maple Leafs are back at home for a game against the New York Islanders tonight. The Isles might be at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division, but they’ve beaten some pretty good teams lately in the Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins and Minnesota Wild. The Leafs can’t afford to take them lightly.
As the team moves past the midpoint of the season, it’s always a good idea to look back and reflect. Mirtle does that with every member of the Leafs, and his midterm grades are quite accurately all over the place. Are there any grades you don’t agree with?
In actual Leafs news, the only note really worth mentioning is the Leafs shook up their defense quite a bit in practice yesterday.
Carlyle is considering juggling his defence pairings. Look at practice today saw Gleason-Phaneuf, Gardiner-Rielly, Fraser-Franson.
— Jonas Siegel (@jonasTSN1050) January 6, 2014
Carl Gunnarsson is out with injury and Paul Ranger will likely sit after a rough game Saturday. Tim Gleason will almost certainly make his Leafs’ debut and Mark Fraser looks like he’s coming back into the lineup for the first time since December 17.
If you’re looking for information on the enemy, Eyes On Isles released their own midterm player grades. Here are the forwards and here are the defensemen. The Isles look to me like a team that has basically non-existent secondary scoring, so if the Leafs can keep John Tavares, Thomas Vanek and Kyle Okposo off the scoreboard, they should be fine.
Speaking of that Tavares guy, he’s pretty good. Good enough that he’s basically a lock to be named to Team Canada’s entry at the Sochi Olympics later this morning. Where will he and other prospective players fit on the roster? Some of our writers released our own answers to that question. Check them out and let us know your thoughts on the team as well.
But as Drew Fairservice of theScore reminds us, let’s not take the selections too seriously. Even if a few worthy players are snubbed, Team Canada is still going to be incredibly stacked and incredibly fun to watch, as will most of the other countries. Embrace the wackiness.