A STORM IS COMING (PRE GAME OPINIONS)
The longer the Leafs continue to struggle, the more reminders I will have of the 2011-12 season. The Leafs are playing against the Lighting at home after a disappointing road trip. This comes 24 hours after the Leafs lost to the injury-riddled Red Wings. Fun fact of the day, today marks the two year anniversary of the Bruins spanking of the Leafs 8-0. That was at a time when the Leafs were a sub-par and difficult-to-watch team.
On a brighter note, Bernier might be returning to protect the pipes tonight. And that is perhaps the best news any Leaf fan at this point wants to hear. This will be the first time the Leafs play against Stamkos, as he was out with an injury from mid November up until early March. The Maple Leafs have beaten the Lighting twice already, but Stamkos could make a win a little more tough. One other thing to mention, their are only 12 games left until the playoffs begin! Can you believe how fast this season has gone? Well, Leafs better realize because this game will be HUGE!
Here are the three things the Leafs must do in order to win:
1) Get the Top Line going again
It is good to see that JVR finally got a goal yesterday. But the line as a whole needs to continue to work their way out of this slump, and at an extremely fast pace! Kessel, Bozak, and JVR continue to let the Leafs down by failing to register key points at the most important moment of the season. If the Leafs are going to hang on for the post season, this line needs to produces.
2) Who ever is in net needs to play exceptional
Who will be the starting goalie for the Leafs tomorrow: Bernier or MactIntrye? Whoever it is, one of them has to be the difference maker in protecting the pipes and making key saves. It is unfortunate that Reimer cannot be a useful option lately, although he has given the Leafs a chance. Whatever the reason, someone has to make sure this slump ends tonight!
3) Score more power play goals
One positive thing to take out of last nights game is that the Leafs actually had a good power play. The puck found the back of the net once (actually it happened twice, but it did not count) and it helped get the Leafs back in the game. In this game, that slow return to normality has to continue by scoring more goals on the power play. It will make the special teams look much better than it is right now.
Here is my prediction for this game: This looks to be a scoring fest, but the winner will have a one goal advantage. Pray to God that this slump ends tonight! Hope to see you after the game!