Jan 28, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop (30) and Toronto Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul (19) try to get to a rebound during the third period at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto defeated Tampa Bay 3-2. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Maple Leafs Game Preview & Live Thread Number 59: Tampa Bay Lightning

Who: Tampa Bay Lightning

Where: The Saint Petes Time Forum??  Tampa Bay Times Forum

What time: 7:30

How to watch:  Leafs TV

Where to listen: TSN 1050

Opposition Blog: “Bolts By The Bay”

The Leafs finish up their brief two game Sunny Side road-trip as they face the Lightning tonight in Tampa Bay. The spotlight heading into this game is that Tampa sniper Steven Stamkos will not be playing for Team Canada heading into the Sochi Olympics. A decision that is a hard one to swallow but is the right one for Tampa as Marty St.Louis takes his place, Stamkos is not expected to play tonight against the Leafs. Toronto is coming off a disappointing loss to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night. This will be the second to last game before the Olympic break as they will take on the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night.

Would not be shocked to see the amount of minutes Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk will get as the hockey portion of the Olympics are right around the corner. A lot of teams have rested or some of their stars have even declined going to Sochi so they can rest, so it will be interesting to see the minute distribution Carlyle gives his top line.

Lineups: 

van Riemsdyk-Bozak-Phil Da Thrill

Lupul- Kadri-Kulemin

Raymond-McClement-Clarkson

McLaren-Smithson-Orr

Gunnarsson-Phaneuf

Gardiner-Franson

Gleason-Rielly

Bernier

Reimer

Tampa Bay 

Palat-Johnson-St.Louis

Killorn-Fillpula?-Purcell

Brown-Pyatt-Kucherov

Malone-Thompson-Crombeen

Hedman-Salo

Carle-Gudas

Barberio-Brewer

Notes: 

Hopefully the Leafs can get go back home for their finale game before the break with a win here tonight. The Tampa forum is always a nice arena and a tough place to play so the Leafs need to get on an offensive attack early and often. A win here tonight would be huge heading home to face Vancouver who I would assume would be guns blazing since they are really struggling and had an awful game against the Bruins. Expect Jonathan Bernier to start here in Florida.

Steven Stamkos was as expected pretty disappointed about not being able to represent Sochi in the Olympics for Team Canada, though he had nothing but positive words for his replacement and team-mate Marty St. Louis

It appears-baring any last minute changes- that Jarred Smithson will play tonight, why? I am not quite sure as he is a bad offensive player and contributes nothing to little help on defence. The line of McClaren-Smithson-Orr is a horrible horrible line and against a team that is 3 points up on the Leafs in the standings Randy Carlyle better realize what team he is facing and play the fourth line as little as possible,the Leafs give up a ton of shots and part of the reason for that is because guys like McClaren, Orr and Smithson are given such heavy minutes that more talented players deserve.

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Tags: James Van Riemsdyk Jonathan Bernier Phil Kessel Toronto Maple Leafs

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