Game Preview #28 - Leafs vs Devils

 

The Toronto Maple Leafs (15-10-2) will get right back at it tonight as they come home and host the New Jersey Devils (12-12-1) at the Air Canada Centre. Coming off an emotional and intense win last night against the New York Rangers, the Leafs will need to be careful to not let up against the weaker Devils squad. James Reimer is expected to make his first home start since October 19. Reimer sat back yesterday and watched teammate Jonas Gustavsson stand on his head. Hopefully the Leafs #1 goalie can match The Monster's performance from last night. New Jersey may be the perfect type of team that Reimer needs to ease himself back into game shape.

The Devils are currently in 12th place in the Eastern Conference. Having missed the playoffs last season, and struggling once again this year the aging Devils are an obvious team going through a transition period. The Leafs defeated the Devils 5-3 earlier this season in the Meadowlands, embarrassing future hall of famer Martin Brodeur that night. Joffrey Lupul had a hat trick in that game, and even though the Devils are much more rested than the Leafs (New Jersey hasn't played since Saturday), the Leafs should pick up two points tonight.

There are no expected lineup changes other that swapping Reimer for Gustavsson, as the Leafs played a solid team game last night at Madison Square Garden. Mikhail Grabovski who missed last night's game due to the birth of his child may miss tonight's encounter as well.

Both Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk have had a poor start to the campaign as the Devils seem to not know whether they're coming or going. Lifelong Devil Patrick Elias is leading the team in scoring with 21 points in 25 games. Tonight's game also matches up two of the NHL's best rookie defenseman in the Leafs' Jake Gardiner and the Devils' Adam Larsson.

Lineups

Leafs

Forwards

Lupul - Bozak - Kessel
Frattin - Connolly - MacArthur
Kulemin - Colborne - Crabb
Dupuis - Steckel - Rosehill

Defense

Gunnarsson  - Phaneuf
Gardiner - Schenn
Liles - Franson

Goalies

Reimer
Gustavsson

Devils

Forwards

Parise - Henrique - Kovalchuk
Tedenby - Elias - Sykora
Zubrus - Carter - Clarkson
Boulton - Sestito - Palmieri

Defense

Greene - Larsson
Tallinder - Fayne
Salvador - Volchenkov

Goalies

Brodeur
Hedberg

Players to Watch

Leafs: James Reimer - As noted above, this will be Reimer's second start and first home start since the concussion like symptoms that sidelined him for six weeks. Reimer was decent against the Bruins Saturday night, but he didn't play at the level Leaf fans are used to seeing him at. Hopefully tonight Reimer can get back to being the goalie the Leafs need him to be.

Devils: Ilya Kovalchuk - As Kovalchuk goes, the Devils go. An elite talent in the world, Kovalchuk can single handidly win a game for his team when he's on. The Leafs (and old nemesis Dion Phaneuf) will need to shut him down if they are going to get the result they're looking for.

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