7PM ET: Leafs TV
Despite being picked to finish in the basement they're leading their division. Old veterans have been moved out and a GM's vision is becoming clearer on the ice. Youngsters are assuming bigger roles and are fast and hungry. This year's iteration looks like it would mop the floor with last year's iteration and fans are ecstatic.
Sound familiar? I'm talking about the New York Islanders. They lead the Atlantic Division having flattened Colorado 5-2 on Saturday night. Josh Bailey is playing like a man possessed after looking for so long like a decent shutdown center.
Where the Leafs are deep and solid on defense the Islanders have two goaltenders who can steal the show. In terms of high end offensive talent I don't think John Tavares is as good as Phil Kessel is today (though that may change in a few years).
Forget about winnable games; the Islanders are playing like they're going to join the middle of the Eastern Conference (which is where the Leafs are trying to get to). This could be an important game for two young teams that would be plenty happy with that #8 spot in the East.
Last year's Leafs team would blow this game tonight: "soft" opponent at home early in the week on Leafs TV. Let's hope these Leafs understand that they could make everyone forget about a great start in a hurry with one single dud game. The media, both National and in Toronto, are writing their joke articles about how good the Leafs are but know that after loss one the headlines will read "Exposed" or "The Bubble Bursts". There are 78 games left and the Leafs have to keep playing like they are to have a chance at playing at least four more.
Jean-Sebastien Giguere starts for the Leafs against Dwayne Roloson and his 0.929 SV% (gulp). Brett Lebda is in for Carl Gunnarsson.