Coming off of the first ever live-action performance of Sharknado, the Leafs welcome the Columbus Blue Jackets to a nice party at the ACC at 7:00pm. You can watch the action on Sportsnet or listen on TSN 1050. If you're in Ohio, the game is on Fox Sports Ohio.
...The organist plays a tune.... "Is that Rains of Castamere?" David Clarkson asks, but sadly no one listens to him.
Where We're At
The Leafs are in 27th place with 39 points and Columbus is last with 34.
The Leafs have an all-time record against the Jackets that is 9-5-1-2 (4-3-1-1 at Toronto). More importantly, this year's Leafs beat this year's Jackets back in October when they were bad. The Leafs, I mean. Of course, the Jackets were terrible too at the time.
The score of that epic matchup was 6-3 Leafs, and we all expect at least that good again right?
At the halfway point of the season, the Leafs are better than they were, but better might not be what they need (or we want them) to be.
Where They're At
And the Jackets? Bob started to get hot, and then he got broken. They've been using their backup as starter, but they broke him too. AHL goalie Anton Forsberg was in net for a 5-2 kicking last night from the New York Islanders, who didn't play all that well. We can expect the other AHL goalie Joonas Korpisalo who has a 5-on-5 adjusted save percentage of .905 in only a few starts.
Of course the big Blue Jacket news was the recent trade of Ryan Johansen for Seth Jones. Jones has been good to terrible for the Jackets in the few games he's played, and candidly admitted when asked that he's struggling a bit with the change to the Jackets' defensive system. As you would expect.
Don't assume that without Johansen, they have no offence. They are a chaotic team that plays well sometimes, terrible others, and has the ability to score goals. Defensively--oh hey, today's Jack Johnson's birthday--there, I said something nice about their D.
It's actually a surprise they still have D, since they just lost their second one on a waiver claim. Who takes Columbus D castoffs? Colorado and Arizona.
ARI claims Kevin Connauton from CBJ.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) January 13, 2016
And then there's the Tortorella effect.
"I really think that's the Rains of Castamere," said David, as if into the void.
The Leafs have been making some changes since coming off their road trip. Some fun:
Didn't see these before. Nice new pads James Reimer is sporting today. pic.twitter.com/nenTcYDmfx— David Alter (@dalter) January 12, 2016
Some not, as James van Riemsdyk is out for weeks with an injury. To fill the roster, the Leafs called up Josh Leivo, so fans will get a chance to see him in action. You should expect Leivo to draw in on the fourth line with Shawn Matthias taking van Riemsdyk's spot on the Bozak line, but Leivo did sub in on the first power play unit at practice yesterday.
Also something to watch for is Morgan Rielly:
Morgan Rielly getting a look on Leafs second PP unit today. Rielly has played only 38 minutes (0:57/game) on the PP this season.— Jonas Siegel (@jonasTSN1050) January 12, 2016
Will he get a chance in the game?
James Reimer is expected to get the start, and he's sporting an adjusted 5-on-5 save percentage this year of .954, the best in the league.
David Clarkson smiles sadly, because he knows how to keep his head up in the face of adversity. Keeping his feet under him is another story.
Leafs Lines and Pairings
Michael Grabner - Nazem Kadri - Leo Komarov
Shawn Matthias - Tyler Bozak - P.A. Parenteau
Daniel Winnik - Peter Holland - Joffrey Lupul
Josh Leivo - Byron Froese - Brad Boyes
Jake Gardiner - Dion Phaneuf
Matt Hunwick - Morgan Rielly
Martin Marincin - Roman Polak
James Reimer - starting
Blue Jackets Lines and Pairings
Scott Hartnell - Alexander Wennberg -Brandon Saad
Boone Jenner - William Karlsson - Cam Atkinson
Kerby Rychel - Brandon Dubinsky - Josh Anderson
Rene Bourque -Gregory Campbell - Jared Boll
Ryan Murray - Seth Jones
Jack Johnson - David Savard
Fedor Tyutin - Justin Falk
Joonas Korpisalo - likely starter