Game Preview #49 - Islanders vs Leafs
For the second time in two nights the Toronto Maple Leafs (24-19-5) will meet the New York Islanders (19-22-6). This time though the two teams will face-off on Long Island, following the Leafs' 3-0 victory at the Air Canada Centre last night. There's not that much new information to provide in preparation for this game after last night's encounter.
The Islanders will be looking to head into the all-star break on a winning note, having been dominated in all facets of the game yesterday. Leading scorer John Tavares had his 12 game point streak come to an end. Seeing the transformation in Tavares this season, I think he'll come out with a purpose tonight in an attempt to start another streak. There hasn't been any confirmation from the Islanders, but expect Evgeny Nabakov to once again start tonight's game.
Toronto needs to pick up the slack on the road, as they have gone an embarrassing 1-5-1 in their last seven games away from the Air Canada Centre. In fact that one victory was in Long Island as Toronto defeated the Isles 5-3 on December 23, thanks to a dominant first period. The Leafs will look to once again come out of the gate firing as they did that night in December as well as last night in Toronto.
The two points for the Leafs are huge in their playoff chase. Currently tied with the Washington Capitals for the 8th and final playoff position. With a victory tonight the Leafs can conceivably leapfrog both the Capitals and New Jersey Devils into 7th in the Eastern Conference with the all-star break upcoming. The Leafs cannot sit back tonight and rest because of their victory yesterday. The veterans in the room need to identify the importance of this game, and lead the charge.
Jonas Gustavsson will once again start in net coming off the shutout last night. His name is Jonas has gone 11-5-0 with a 2.19 GAA and a .927 save percentage in his last 16 games. He's been great, and his defense in front have come up large in 2012.
Lupul - Bozak - Kessel
Kulemin - Grabovski - Crabb
Kadri - Connolly - Lombardi
Brown - Steckel - MacArthur
Phaneuf - Schenn
Gunnarsson - Komisarek
Gardiner - Franson
Moulson – Tavares – Okposo
Grabner – Nielson – Parenteau
Martin – Bailey – Rolston
Wallace – Pandolfo – Niederreiter
Streit – Jurcina
Hamonic – MacDonald
Eaton – Reese
Players to Watch
Leafs: Dion Phaneuf - As noted above this game is one in which two points are crucial to the Leafs. Phaneuf will need to lead the charge and prevent the youngest team in the league from becoming complacent following last night's result.
Islanders: John Tavares - He's an absolute star and elite player in the NHL. Every time the Islanders are the opponents teams will identify that if they shut down Tavares they shut down the Isles. Toronto needs to pay special attention to the OHL's all time leading goal scorer.
Game Time - 7:00 at the Nassau Veterans Coliseum. TV - Sportsnet Ontario. Radio - AM640.