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Game Day Preview: Leafs - Canucks

Can the Leafs beat the Canucks more than once a decade? Let's find out!

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John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The last time the Leafs played the Canucks, they beat them for the first time since November of 2003, thereby earning the right to expunge all pictures of Mats Sundin in a Canucks jersey from the Internet, I'm pretty sure. It was a decisive, fun win, giving us all a sense of optimism heading into the Olympic break.

We all know what happened next. The Leafs won just six of the 21 games they played after beating the Canucks, and the eighteen-wheeler careened off the cliff and burst into flames. I know there are many, many problems with the Leafs that led to the collapse, but a small, irrational part of my brain can't help but feel that beating the Canucks disrupted the fabric of the universe and led to cosmic punishment against the Leafs. The Canucks make me a little bit nervous now. Do I really want the Leafs to beat them again? Maybe not.

The Canucks have been better this year than last, and seem to be climbing out of the hole that John Tortorella threw them into. Their possession numbers are slightly better, they haven't had a lot of injuries, and so far, Willie Desjardins hasn't tried to fight anyone. One of the reasons the Leafs were able to beat the Canucks for the first time in a decade was because the Canucks were struggling - they'll be much sharper this time around, and the Leafs will have to keep up.

Other assorted thoughts on the game:

Brandon Kozun is back! Okay, maybe he doesn't deserve an exclamation mark, but he's definitely better than Trevor Smith, so his return should improve the bottom six. It's also tough when a young player gets a long-term injury like a high-ankle sprain - I'm glad he's recovered.

Jonathan... *long, deep sigh* ...Bernier. Bernier attended the Raptors game last night, as well as the event beforehand in honor of Nelson Mandela. He was interviewed and rambled at length about Mandela, despite the fact that he apparently thinks he was an athlete. I'm not sure whether Leafs PR is to blame for not adequately preparing Bernier for this, or if the same overconfidence that convinces Bernier he can wander behind the net without impunity also convinced him that he should definitely speak at length about something he knows nothing about. In any case, it was incredibly embarrassing and cringe-worthy. I, for one, think Bernier should sit on the bench and read some South African history. Besides his ignorance, he's only got an .897% in his past seven starts. Plus his hair is dumb, which isn't relevant to his play but which has been irritating me ever since he joined the team. Let's give Reimer a real chance and let him start before he rots away completely.

Former Canucks, hopefully scoring on their old team. The Leafs often get burned by middle-of-the-road former players scoring on them (remember John-Michael Liles making it 4-1 Carolina?). It's always satisfying when the tables are turned and current Leafs score on their former teams. Booth and Santorelli are facing the Canucks for the first time since leaving that team - hopefully they can use some of their inside knowledge to score points.

My prediction: The Canucks beat the Leafs 4-3, in overtime. Santorelli scores, assisted by Booth. Bernier lets in a stinky goal and Leafs fans rain down copies of "Long Walk to Freedom".