Game #3 Preview - Leafs vs Flames
Following what seems like an eternity the Toronto Maple Leafs will be back in game action tonight hosting the Calgary Flames at the Air Canada Centre. The Leafs are coming off of a 6-5 win over the Ottawa Senators while the Flames are hoping to build off of their 4-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens Thursday night. Thursday's victory was the Flames' first of the season.
Tonight's game will be the first this season for Clarke MacArthur having served his two game suspension to begin the season. MacArthur being back will be a significant boost to the Leafs. His chemistry with Nikolai Kulemin and Mikhail Grabovski is a major strength for the young Buds. Matt Frattin will slide to the third line with Matthew Lombardi and Colby Armstrong after filling in to mixed results for MacArthur. Cody Franson is also expected to make his Leafs debut tonight having been a healthy scratch for the first two games of the season. Franson is an offensively gifted defender who so far in his career has been hesitant to use his massive 6'5" 213 lbs frame. Franson will need to overcome that reputation quickly if he is to survive in the vulturous media market that is Toronto.
This evening's encounter will also be a reunion for many players. Current Leafs Dion Phaneuf and Matthew Lombardi will be facing off against their former team, while ex-Leafs Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman and Lee Stempniak will suit up for the Flames. It's interesting to see the Flames already discussing a lack of intensity and needing to bring more of a compete level to the ice considering they traded Phaneuf away in January 2010 because of his apparent bad attitude. The current Leafs captain is their leader on and off the ice. Regardless of what people think about Dion, when he is in the lineup both his and the Leafs compete level and intensity are not issues.
Tim Connolly remains out of the lineup with an 'upper body' injury, while Nazem Kadri has been skating and practicing with the team. Kadri is expected back early next week.
Kulemin - Grabovski - MacArthur
Lupul - Bozak - Kessel
Frattin - Lombardi - Armstrong
Brown - Steckel - Dupuis
Gunnarsson - Phaneuf
Liles - Schenn
Franson - Komisarek
Tanguay - Moss - Iginla
Glencross - Jokinen - Stempniak
Hagman - Horak - Bourque
Kostopoulos - Stajan - Jackman
Giordano - Hannan
Butler - Bouwmeester
Smith - Sarich
Players to Watch
Leafs: Mikhail Grabovski - With the return of MacArthur the Leafs best line will finally make their season debut tonight. Grabovski had a great training camp, and has been ok to begin the season. I'm expecting him to really expose the slow Flames tonight.
Flames: Rene Bourque - He has emerged as a legitimate scoring threat in the league. With the Leafs focusing all their attention on Iginla tonight, Bourque could have a big night should the Leafs forget about him.
Game Time - 7:00 at the Air Canada Centre. TV - CBC. Radio - AM640.