Red Wings and Maple Leafs prepare for Original Six showdown
It's the only time this season these Original Six teams will be facing each other, and right now Detroit currently has the bragging rights after a victory at Joe Louis Arena last March.
The Red Wings survived their last game against the Dallas stars with a 5-4 victory, while the Maple Leafs dominated against Winnipeg in a 4-0 victory that saw goals from Phil Kessel, Clarke MacArthur, Mikhail Grabovski and Tim Connolly.
Detroit is fighting to get the top spot in the Central division right now, and are only a single point behind the Blackhawks. The Leafs on the other hand are in the middle of their division, but are closely chasing the Senators. So what could make tonight's game an even bigger deal?
How about the fact that this game is being played at the Air Canada Centre? The Wings are still seeing some subpar performance on the road. The game will also be part of CBC's Hockey Night in Canada, which is nationally televised.
The Wings will need to look to their second line of Valtteri Filppula, Henrik Zetterberg and Jiri Hudler to make an impact. The trio have a combined 11 points in the last two games. Filppula is proving to be the one of Detroit most crucial pieces this season as he remains consistent with his contributions.
Jimmy Howard is looking for his 100th career win tonight, and he is continuing to have a phenomenal season with 24 wins (1st in NHL), .927 sv% and 1.99 GAA.
On the other side of the ice, Toronto's Jonas Gustavsson has won eight of his last 11. The Leafs will also have star defenseman Dion Phaneuf, who took a hit to the face in the third period of last game. Toronto's coach has confirmed that he will be playing.
The Maple Leafs also have Joffrey Lupul, who has recorded five goals and six assists in the last 10 games. With added effort from Kessel, MacArthur, Connolly and Grabovski, the Leafs will have enough options to stay confident against the Wings.
Both teams are piling up with injuries. Red Wings Holmstrom (groin), Helm (groin) and Eaves (jaw) will be out for tonight's game. Jan Mursak (ankle) has been taken off IR, but will be spending some time in the AHL for conditioning. Toronto will be without Colby Armstrong (concussion), Tyler Bozak (upper body) and John-Michael Liles (undisclosed) tonight, but will see the return of Mike Brown (back) and Mike Komisarek (upper body).