The Toronto Maple Leafs are back in the Motor City for the first time since New Year’s Day to take on the Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings are three points back of the second wild card spot in the East (currently occupied by the New York Rangers) and will be fighting for their playoff lives tonight. The Leafs hope to regain the number-two spot in the Atlantic Division with a win.
That New Year’s Day match was, of course, the much-ballyhooed Winter Classic. The game was a sloppy affair as the snow steadily fell on Michigan Stadium’s outdoor rink all afternoon. In true Leafian fashion, the Blue and White blew a third-period lead before Joffrey Lupul and Tyler Bozak both scored shootout goals to clinch the 3-2 win.
The Red Wings have nine players injured, including key veterans Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Darren Helm, Dan Cleary, Mikael Samuelsson and Stephen Weiss. The injuries are a big reason why the Wings have lost five of their last seven games and are in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time in 22 years.
The Leafs will have James Reimer in net for the fourth straight game, his longest streak of the season. Jonathan Bernier made the trip to Detroit, but probably won’t be available in this game, as he suffered a “low-grade” grain strain in Thursday’s game against the Los Angeles Kings.
It also appears the Leafs will run 11 forwards and seven defensemen again tonight. For more on the lineup and everything else you need to know about the game, check out Daniel J.’s preview.
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