The Leafs host the Carolina Hurricanes tonight at the ACC. Yours truly will be in attendance for my first real game of the year. My last outing was the 7-2 pre-season beating that the slugs laid on the Leafs so I am hoping for a much better performance. Last year the Leafs won three of the four meetings between the two squads including the last two by scores of 4-1 and 6-1.
Aside from being another opportunity for Mats Sundin to pass Darryl Sittler on the franchise's all-time goal (1 goal needed) and points (2 points needed) charts. If Mats can match the flair for the dramatic that was on display when he scored his 500th tonight I'd be happy. Maybe an early assist to open the scoring and a goal late in the third to get the win.
But the more visible story is that tonight will be the first game for Jason Blake since the bombshell of his fight with CML was revealed to the public yesterday. Blake admitted that it served to alleviate a little of the pressure that he was feeling:
The Hurricanes' Cam Ward is 2-3-1 with a 3.79 GAA in six starts against the Maple Leafs, who took three of four meetings last season and won the last two by a combined 10-2.
These are the lines that skated together during practice this morning pre-Blender. Blake is back on the top line and Devereaux has been promoted to the third line.
Nik Antropov - Mats Sundin - Jason Blake
Alex Steen - Matt Stajan - Alexei Ponikarovsky
Boyd Devereaux - Chad Kilger - Darcy Tucker
John Pohl - Kris Newbury - Bates Battaglia
Bryan McCabe - Ian White
Tomas Kaberle - Pavel Kubina
Hal Gill - Andy Wozniewski
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