Preview: Maple Leafs vs. Balsillie's Baby

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Nashville Predators
@ Toronto Maple Leafs

Pre-Game: 7pm LeafsTV

Broadcast: 7:30pm LeafsTV, AM640

Post-Game: 10:30pm LeafsTV

Opposing Coverage: On The Forecheck

Tuesday, Jan 13, 2009, 7:30 PM EST
Air Canada Centre

Complete Coverage >

Did you know that the Predators have lost seven straight road games? It's true. It's right here in the official preview. Now, what does that tell you? That it is a mortal lock that they will win tonight. And that's a good thing because the Leafs are never going to catch up to ottawa by beating struggling teams.

One nice storyline from tonight is that Wade Belak will be back in town for the first time as a Nashville Predator.

Wade Belak

#3 / The Enforcer the Leafs Need / Nashville Predators

6-5

221

Jul 03, 1976

GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2008 - Wade Belak 34 0 1 1 1 52 0 0 0 0 13 0.0

Wade Belak had a well documented run as the team funny guy. His Wade a Minute series was hilarious and featured the foxy Jody Vance. There was his run at a Leafs record, he was devastated at being traded, hell, he even tried to give Mats Sundin the kind of winger that he deserved. In the end, he was shipped out to Florida. Lots of Leaf fans found out that they missed the guy:

 

The irony of course is that for years Leaf fans wanted nothing more than to see the defenceman/winger moved. JFJ kept signing him and, in fact, would have signed him again if he had not been fired. In his stead, to replace the fighting ability, the Leafs have brought in Ryan Hollweg, Andre Deveaux, and Brad May. Now, this could easily be a case of romancing a player after he has left but when you look at the Leafs' lineup who would you rather have? Belak, Hollweg or Deveaux?

The latter might have the best hands, which is not saying much, while Hollweg is just a liability. On the other hand, Belak has the size and skating ability (Pat Quinn said he was the Leafs' best skater and he's our buddy so we trust him) to play on the Leafs' fourth line. He was like Ian White without hands. He has always been a bit of an underrated fighter but he never (did he ever?) backed down from a challenge and was always ready to defend his teammates.

I guess it's true what they say, you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.

Oh yeah, Finger is out of tonight's game and Kulemin is questionable. The two teams are 3-3-1 (that's a tie for those of you that remember them) all time in Toronto so tonight's winner gets bragging rights in the Battle of Belak Teams.

Go Leafs Go!

REMEMBER YOUR SPG PICKS

Update It looks like the latest in a string of great goalies unearthed by the Predators will be starting and Nashville's answer to Ryan Hollweg will be benched.
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