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.

Lineups

Leafs

Forwards

Lupul - Bozak - Kessel
Kulemin - Grabovski - Crabb
Kadri - Connolly - Lombardi
Brown - Steckel - MacArthur

Defense

Phaneuf - Schenn
Gunnarsson - Komisarek
Gardiner - Franson

Goalies

Gustavsson
Reimer

Islanders 

Forwards

Moulson – Tavares – Okposo
Grabner – Nielson – Parenteau
Martin – Bailey – Rolston
Wallace – Pandolfo – Niederreiter

Defense

Streit – Jurcina
Hamonic – MacDonald
Eaton – Reese

Goalies

Nabokov
Poulin

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.

2 Comments

Rob Melendez's picture

It's about time we see Phaneuf and Schenn together, Schenn is the solid stay at home guy Phaneuf needs riding shotgun, not aulie. Aulie has been mediocre, and while Schenn hasn't been stellar at times, he's finding his stride beside Phaneuf. They're physical, skilled, and tough to play against in the corners. I've been wanting them to play together for a long time, and now everybody is seeing why. Also isn't it about time we see Grabo on the top line with Kessel and Lupul? Grabo played some extended shifts with Kessel and didn't look out of place, Bozak has been decent, but Grabo back checks fiercely and has more speed.

Marco Perruzza's picture

I'm actually more inclined to see Aulie than Schenn with Dion. Aulie's size and reach are a better compliment to the Captain. While Aulie has also displayed more mobility lately than the slow and sluggish Schenn.

Personally I don't think Bozak has been decent at all. I think he's an albatross to the two Leafs scoring leaders. Would rather have Connolly with Lupul and Kessel and Colborne with Lombardi and Kadri.

But who am I to question Wilson he's gotten results with the youngest team in the league and is one of the all-time leaders in coaching wins.

It's going to be an exciting finish, thanks for the comment Rob!