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[Game Preview] Leafs vs. Canes

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Time for the Peter Horachek era to get turned around.

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Nobody expected miracles from Peter Horachek when he took over the Leafs' head coaching job. All we ever wanted was for this mediocre squad to look less terrible. Mostly, Horachek has delivered, but naturally, he won't quiet many of his louder critics (the ones with microphones) until his team starts posting wins. Enter: The Carolina Hurricanes.

The last meeting between these two teams ended in a 4-1 Carolina win, and while the Canes are a low-scoring team (2nd last in the league, only to Buffalo) they have a great penalty kill which sits at 4th in league and decent goaltending. Jordan Staal is back from injury and certainly makes the Hurricanes a better team down the middle. Former Leaf Jay McClement will also be in the lineup, so the pessimist in all of us can expect a good game from him. Finally, this is a Tuesday night game against a what-used-to-be Southeast Division team, so our superstitious sides are probably anxious about the Leafs' odds tonight as well.

On the other hand, a good game from Jonathan Bernier and a couple bounces puts the Leafs in a great position to grab two points from a team in their own conference. The Canes' power play currently sits at 22nd in the league, and their poor team scoring will mean that they'll be hard-pressed to mount a comeback. The team sits at 13th in 5v5 Corsi close and tied, and 12th in plain 5v5 CF%, and so won't go down easily, but I'll be surprised if the Leafs can't find the back of the net a couple times this evening. Heck, the Canes only have 35 points as I write this, and sit squarely at the bottom of their division, just a couple of wins ahead of Buffalo.

GO LEAFS GO

Projected lines via NHL.com:

HURRICANES

Eric Staal – Jordan Staal – Jiri Tlusty

Jeff Skinner – Riley Nash – Elias Lindholm

Nathan Gerbe – Victor Rask – Chris Terry

Brad Malone – Jay McClement – Patrick Dwyer

Andrej Sekera – Justin Faulk

Tim Gleason – Ryan Murphy

Ron Hainsey – Brett Bellemore

Anton Khudobin

Cam Ward

Scratched: Alexander SeminAndrej NestrasilJohn-Michael Liles

Injured: None

MAPLE LEAFS

James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel

Daniel Winnik – Nazem Kadri – Mike Santorelli

Richard Panik – Trevor Smith – David Clarkson

Matt Frattin – Sam Carrick – David Booth

Dion Phaneuf – Cody Franson

Morgan Rielly – Roman Polak

Jake Gardiner – Korbinian Holzer

Jonathan Bernier

James Reimer

Scratched: None

Injured: Joffrey Lupul (lower body), Peter Holland (upper body), Leo Komarov (upper body), Stephane Robidas (upper body)