Wells Fargo Center; Philadelphia, PA 7:00 p.m.; SN (Ontario) SBN Flyera Enthusiasts: Broad Street Hockey
The Leafs played last night, collecting two points over a listless Red Wings team in a 4-0 victory. Auston Matthews potted his 23rd, JVR had a neat goal, Nikita Soshnikov added a nice little snipe of his own, and....hey; what's that? Roman Polak got in on the action? Good for him. If you're the GM of a contending team, need help on your blueline, and you saw that goal, give us a call. We have a team of volunteers working the phones.
The Leafs have been playing been doing fairly well as of late, if you hadn't noticed. They're 7-2-2 in the month of January, and dating back to December 13- on the heels of a 3-1 loss to the lowly Avalanche- they've managed points in 16 of 19 games (12-3-4 record). Regardless of what the future may hold for this team, I would say this is unequivocally the most fun I've had watching regular season Leafs hockey since their 16-game point streak in December 2003.
Much like the Leafs, the Flyers played last night, defeating the Rangers 2-0 and putting them at two straight wins. The Flyers have been somewhat of a streaky team; they won ten straight games from November 27 to December 14, followed by a 3-9-3 slump from December 17 to January 21.
Given that their wins and losses run on some sort of lunar cycle, it seems almost like lifetimes ago since the last time the Leafs saw this team, a 6-3 Leafs win at the ACC on Remembrance Day. Since then, the Flyers have seemed like the best and worst team in the NHL, in that order.
Since both teams played last night, I'll take the coward's way out and repost the lines from their respective games. I'm going to assume the goalie that did not play for each team will start tonight, meaning Curtis McElhinney for the Leafs and Michal Neuvirth for the Flyers. I imagine Morgan Rielly will remain out until after the All-Star break, which is for the best.
Komarov - Kadri - Nylander
Hyman - Matthews - Brown
JVR - Bozak - Marner
Martin - Gauthier - Soshnikov
Gardiner - Carrick
Marincin - Zaitsev
Hunwick - Polak
Keys to the Game
-Andrew MacDonald: Flyers fans tell me he is bad, so I expect Matthews on against him all day every day. Thank you.
-Special teams: The Flyers' 80.3% PK is good for 21st in the league; the Leafs have the league's 2nd best PP, which has been absolutely buzzing on the road as of late. Go out there and do the thing.
-Just stay hydrated and have a good time: I hope all the players have fun before a well-deserved rest! I mean, I hope the ones in blue and white have *more* fun, but let's all have a good time out there!