Game #20 Preview - Leafs vs Capitals

 

The injury ravaged Toronto Maple Leafs (10-7-2) will host the Washington Capitals (10-6-1) tonight at the Air Canada Centre. It has been announced that Jonas Gustavsson will start for the Leafs. Gustavsson hasn't played in four games since his nightmarish display against the Florida Panthers (3 soft goals on 21 shots). With the Leafs set to face the Carolina Hurricanes tomorrow afternoon Gustavsson was set to play in one of the two weekend games. The Capitals are coming off of a 4-1 loss Thursday night, and like the Leafs they have struggled lately going 1-4-1 in their last six games. Capitals captain (and star of Mr.Big commericals) Alexander Ovechkin has struggled by his lofty standards this season with only 14 points in the first 17 games. Free agent acquisition Tomas Vokoun will start in net. Vokoun is off to a nice start with his new team with a 8-3-0 record while posting a 2.36 GAA and a .922 save percentage.

The Leafs announced this morning that defenseman Mike Komisarek has broken a bone in his arm requiring surgery. Komisarek will be out of action for the next two months. Cody Franson draws into the lineup for the second straight game. Komisarek had had a nice start to the season with 1 goal and 4 points while logging 16:59 of ice time per game. Komisarek was also a +3 on the year. Franson provides a lot more mobility to the back-end, however he is not as physical as Komi. Rookie centre Joe Colborne has been called up from the Toronto Marlies where he leads them with 19 points through 12 games. The Leafs have been decimated by injuries lately losing Matthew Lombardi, Colby Armstrong, Mikhail Grabovski, Clarke MacArthur, Mike Brown and James Reimer in addition to Komisarek. The Leafs will need to utilize their speed tonight and hope to receive some offense from one of their other lines. The Leafs have been forced to live and die with the Phil Kessel line for the last six games. Hopefully Tim Connolly, Nikolai Kulemin, Matt Frattin or Colborne can get this offense in gear tonight. With Gustavsson in net to face the high-octane Capitals tonight things could get really ugly for the blue and white.

Lineups

Forwards

Lupul - Bozak - Kessel

Kulemin - Connolly - Frattin

Steckel - Colborne - Crabb

Rosehill - Dupuis - Orr

Defense

Gunnarsson - Phaneuf

Liles - Franson

Franson - Schenn

Goalies

Gustavsson

Scrivens

Capitals 

Forwards

Ovechkin - Backstrom - Brouwer

Chimera  - Laich - Semin

Eakin - Johansson - Ward

Hendricks - Halpern - Knuble

Defense

Hamrlik - Alzner

Erskine - Wideman

Schultz - Carlsson

Goalies

Vokoun

Neuvirth

Players to Watch 

Leafs: Joe Colborne - The centrepiece of the Tomas Kaberle trade last season, Colborne was the Ocotber player of the month in the AHL. Last night was his first game in two weeks after suffering a lower body injury. Colborne has soft hands and should provide a creative spark to the dormant Leafs offense.

Capitals: Nicklas Backstrom - The Capitals leading scorer lies in Ovechkin's shadow, but is one of the elite playmakers in the NHL. He has had success against the Leafs before. Look for him to control the power play for the Capitals.

Game Time: 7:00 at the Air Canada Centre. TV - CBC. Radio - AM640.