After a four day break, in recognition of Isaac Newton's birthday, the Leafs are back!
When we last left our heroes, they had handily beaten the Stars, after dropping three straight games. The bad news is that tonight is the kickoff to an ugly 5 game road trip. All 5 games are this week, and two of them are back to back. They're going to need to get that winning momentum again to make it through to Saturday without this turning into a disaster.
Indications from yesterday's practice are that JvR will continue playing with Santorelli and Kadri, a line which was quite effective vs. the Stars.
Komarov has resumed practicing, but is not cleared for contact yet, and so he will stay out on injured reserve a little longer. He did get "the other Corporal" a very nice Christmas gift.
What's happening with the Leafs goal-tending is up in the air. This morning, Jonas Siegel wrote the following:
Jonathan Bernier expected to start with James Reimer projected to follow tomorrow.
But now Chris Gibson has been called up from the Marlies. Which goalie was injured, sick, or if a trade is afoot, is still unclear. Perhaps Bernier is just busy getting another dumb haircut (as he promised he would to Reimer).
UPDATE: Siegel reports Bernier has a fever. Not believed to be the mumps. So I guess Reimer will start.
Roberto Luongo will likely be in net for the Panthers. He's carrying a 0.924 sv% this season, which has lead to the Panthers sneaking some wins in the shootout, specifically four in their last six games. With that kind of goal-tending, and the Panther's possession stats jumping well above league median this month, what happens tonight will come down to which Leafs show up to play the cats: the defensively sloppy, or the defensively responsible.
THE LOCAL BOY and THE EX-LEAF: The pride of Mimico, Ontario, and ex-Leaf, Dave Bolland. Oh and he's yet to score this season. After injuring himself and missing about twenty games, again, he has picked up just 3 assists in 11 matches. I guess he used up all his grart and leadership dust in the contract negotiations when he fooled the Panthers in giving him the second highest paying contract on their team.
THE LOCAL SCENE: Head on over to Litter Box Cats if you want to see what they think of us. Feel free to take a dump, I guess? Or just read them this poem.
WHAT AM I DRINKING TONIGHT? Boneshaker! Because Bolland's bones are shaky! Get it? Neither do I.
Game time is an early 5:00 start, broadcast on Sportsnet.