Second Half! A new beginning! A clean slate! The Toronto Maple Leafs are back in action against a familiar foe, a former playoff pain, the New Jersey Devils! Not a bad opponent to kick off the win streak and march towards the playoffs against. New Jersey is 14th in the Eastern Conference, with a 17-22-8 record. Five points back of the Maple Leafs, who enter the second half of the season with a 22-23-3 record.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS @ NEW JERSEY DEVILS
7:30PM - Sportsnet, AM590
SBN: In Lou We Trust
The Leafs: The Leafs entered the all-star break on a 6 game losing streak, having scored only 5 goals in those losses, 3 of those goals in a 4-3 loss to Ottawa to begin the break. Leo Komarov returns to the line up tonight, missed by the team and fans during his absence, but we also see injuries to team captain Dion Phaneuf (hand), forward Joffery Lupul (lower body), and defenseman Stephane Robidas (upper body). Stuart Percy looks to be scratched on defense and it's a safe assumption to say Bernier starts.
Projected Line Ups -Via NHL.com
Leo Komarov - Nazem Kadri - Phil Kessel
James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - David Clarkson
Daniel Winnik - Peter Holland - Mike Santorelli
David Booth - Trevor Smith - Richard Panik
Korbinian Holzer - Cody Franson
Morgan Rielly - Roman Polak
Jake Gardiner - Petter Granberg
Scratched: Stuart Percy
Injured: Dion Phaneuf (hand), Joffrey Lupul (lower body), Stephane Robidas (upper body)
The Devils: Scott Gomez rode an eight game point streak (9 points) into the all-star break. The Devils last game was Jan 20th in San Jose, which they won 5-2. To compare to the Leafs past 6, the Devils went 3-2-1, and were only shutout once. The Devils are missing Salvador, Clowe, Gionta, and Severson to injuries tonigh. Corey Schneider will start.
Here are you NHL.com line ups.
Adam Henrique - Scott Gomez - Jaromir Jagr
Martin Havlat - Travis Zajac - Patrik Elias
Dainius Zubrus - Mike Cammalleri - Michael Ryder
Tuomo Ruutu - Jacob Josefson - Jordin Tootoo
Andy Greene - Adam Larsson
Mark Fraser - Marek Zidlicky
Eric Gelinas - Jon Merrill
Scratched: Peter Harrold, Steve Bernier
Injured: Bryce Salvador (lower body), Ryane Clowe (head), Stephen Gionta (hand), Damon Severson (ankle)
Last Game: The Devils and Leafs faced off in the ACC on December 4th. The Devils won the game 5-3, and clrk didn't have much to remember from the game, but left us with this accurate quote about the future:
The Leafs have no separation from the pack and a tenuous grasp on a playoff spot, and a road-heavy schedule on the horizon against many of the league's elite teams.
This could still get ugly in a hurry.
Final Thoughts: The All-Star break hasn't change my mind, I won't be watching the game myself. I'll be saving the bandwidth I'd use with Game Centre and go to good ol' public access cable to watch my IceDogs continue a 10 game point streak against Owen Sound. A 6 game losing streak and games that frankly made me wonder if anyone at MLSE gives a shit about this season anymore, has left me settled in a mood of "prove to me I should watch again". Maybe they'll do that tonight. Then again, maybe they'll gain some ground on a better lottery pick.