The Leafs play the Devils for the first time since March 23. In case you have purged it from your memory, that was game 5 of the infamous 8 game collapse (second edition), and about the same time James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier fell in love.
Reimer was pulled after letting in 3 goals on 10 shots that game. Reimer’s backup, Drew McIntyre, stopped the next 14 shots, but the Leafs still lost 3-2, because of course they did. McIntyre has since moved on to the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers, where he has sucked. James Reimer has since become engaged to Jonathan Bernier, where he has also…. umm, I'll let you imagine that part with me.
So what’s changed since that night? For the Devils, not much.
Oh wait! They signed Scott Gomez last week! The Ensign Sonya Gomez of hockey!
Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure laughing like I am now will ensure Gomez gets a hat trick tonight. Let's hope Kessel gets two.
Beyond Gomez, the Devils' most notable acquisitions were Cammalleri and Havlat. Both have met the expectations of their team, though I doubt Cammalleri's expectations of the Devils were to be 7 points back of a wild card spot while the team he left behind is sitting pretty in a playoff slot in the West.
The Devils do have some notable injuries: Ryan Clowe and Travis Zajac are out of the lineup on IR; also Jagr, Elias, and Gionta were each banged up enough to leave their game against the Penguins on Tuesday, and it looks possible that none of them will be back for tonight's game. Jagr is now confirmed out with the flu, along with Larsson. These injuries leave DeBoer little choice but to put the Devils' lines in a state of temporal flux, causing them to phase in and out of the ice-time continuum. In that last game he was forced to play Tootoo for 9 minutes, and Scott Gomez, LOL, who was playing in his first game this season, was on the ice for over twenty-two. Your guess is as good as mine for what we will see tonight.
One solid area for the Devils is goaltending. New Jersey has pretty much the exact opposite of our 1A-1B goaltending situation. Scott Clemmensen has played in only three games so far this season. Cory Schneider has played in twenty-four. But Schneider is rolling with a 0.916 SV%, so I guess it's working for them.
So what about our boys in Blue? Mark Masters says Komarov skated at practice today, but confirmed he is not yet ready to play tonight. Uncle Leo's presence will be missed, however it looks like Winnik will be playing. In any case, the Leafs have a lot of bottom six depth players that have been producing when we need them: Santa, Panik,
Ashton, Frattin, Kadri, etc...
This should be a pretty entertaining hockey game!
THE LOCAL BOY: Tonight it's Mike Cammalleri from Richmond Hill, which has recently been terrorized by a foot fetishist. Cammaleri has 10 points in 14 games, so expect him to ad to that because his family will be there watching and that will imbue him with magical goal scoring powers or something.
THE EX-LEAF: It's.... oh there are none! What the hell, Lou? Don't you know how easy it is to steal talent from this team? I thought you were supposed to be a good GM? Oh well. We'll say Tootoo is an honorary Leaf because it's amazing Burke didn't snap him up that free agency day a few years ago. He also wrote a great book you should read.
THE LOCAL SCENE: Head on over to In Lou We Trust if you want to see what they think of us. John Fischer's write-up is here.Feel free to ask him for tips about starting a waste management business too.
WHAT AM I DRINKING TONIGHT? Maudite from Unibroue. Which has a backstory that is about the Devil, and also a flying canoe or something. Whatever. They had me at 8%.
I'm pretty sure we can all agree that the best and most attractive thing to ever come out of New Jersey is James van Riemsdyk. May he score many a goal tonight.
It's a 7:30 start, and the game is on TSN4.