Game #12 Preview - Devils vs Leafs
To start this young season the Toronto Maple Leafs (7-3-1) have managed to bounce back after every loss with a big win. Tonight the Leafs will attempt to continue that streak as they meet the New Jersey Devils (4-4-1) in the midst of this brief three game road trip. The Leafs and Devils both lost road games on Sunday night. The Leafs going down 3-2 to Ottawa, while the Devils were defeated 3-1 by the Dallas Stars.
New Jersey will have Martin Brodeur back in the lineup, but the Devils struggles weren't between the pipes. As coach Peter Deboer said "I’m sure it gives you a lift. Obviously (Brodeur) may be the best goaltender of all time, and one of the leaders in the dressing room. I think just having him healthy, whether he’s playing or on the bench, can definitely help. Having said that, he can’t score goals for us or run the power play.” New Jersey relies heavily on it's two stars (Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise). If these two elite talents can't get in gear than the Devils will disappoint once again. Currently Kovalchuk has only two goals in nine games (his lowest goal scoring month of his NHL career), while new Devils captain Parise is off to a slow start with five points through his first nine games. Rookie defenseman Adam Larsson (4th overall in 2011) has had a great start to the season, and is creating a buzz with his solid play.
The Leafs may have #1 goaile James Reimer back in the net tonight. Reimer has been out since October 22 due to concussion like symptoms. If Reimer is still unable to play Jonas Gustavsson will start with Ben Scrivens backing up. Joey Crabb is expected to make his season debut on the third line, replacing the demoted Matt Frattin. Crabb is currently tied for third in AHL scoring with 15 points through nine games. Despite his offence in the minors expect Crabb to provide a physical presence and a boost to the buds struggling penalty killing (72.3%). Toronto has had Martin Brodeur's number the last couple of seasons, and I expect both the Tim Connolly and Mikhail Grabovski line to have a succesful night against the weak Devils blueline.
Lupul - Connolly - Kessel
Kulemin - Grabovski - MacArthur
Crabb - Bozak - Lombardi
Brown - Steckel - Dupuis
Gunnarsson - Phaneuf
Liles - Komisarek
Franson - Schenn
Parise - Henrique - Kovalchuk
Sykora - Elias - Zubrus
Tedenby - Carter - Clarkson
Janssen - Mills - Palmieri
Tallinder - Larsson
Greene - Fayne
Volchenkov - Salvador
Players to Watch
Leafs: Tim Connolly - The Leafs top line pivot has had a nice start to his Leafs career. With some games under his belt now, I think he'll be in for a big night against Devils. Look for Connolly to set up his wingers (Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul) a tonne tonight.
Devils: Zach Parise - A favourite of both Ron Wilson and Brian Burke. The pending UFA is a Leafs killer. Look for him to have a big night versus his national team coach and general manager.
Game Time: 7:30 at the Prudential Centre. TV - TSN. Radio - AM640.