CLEAN UP THE ISLES (PRE-GAME OPINIONS)


The Leafs are back and are set to begin their second consecutive back-to-back game series. Tonight, they will face the Islanders, who are on a hot start and catching the hockey world's attention. Sound familiar? Well, let's hope the Leafs are up to the task because this is not the same team from last season.

Background Info

The Isles, as mentioned before, are currently off to a hot start, with new players making an impact in their lineup. They lost their first game of the season this past weekend at the hands of their rivals, the Penguins. Expect them to be ready to play.

As for the Leafs, they had a tough weekend with consecutive losses to Detroit, one in regulation and the other late in overtime. They also lost feel good story Brandon Kozun to a lower body injury for the next 6 weeks. Although 1 out of a possible 4 points was gained in the mini series, the Leafs did put forth a strong effort on Saturday and made it close. What Carlyle classified as desperation hockey, may be the key to Toronto's success.

If they can put forth a strong effort tonight, it will go a long way in how this team will go as the season progresses. Especially considering that the Leafs right now are playing better hockey then they were one year ago (though the records tell a different story), they should be coming into this one with a bit of confidence. Hopefully Bernier gets the start tonight because he was amazing on Saturday, and it should help with his confidence in helping the Leafs. But they Isles are not to be taken lightly at all. More on that later.

Projected Lineups

Forwards

JVR-Bozak-Kessel
Lupul-Kadri-Winnik
Komarov-Santorelli-Clarkson
Frattin-Holland-Panik

Defense

Phaneuf-Franson
Rielly-Gardiner
Percy-Robidas

Goalies

Bernier
Reimer

Scratches

Ashton, Polak, Kozun (injured), Booth (injured)

3 Keys to Victory

1) Don't take the Islanders lightly. While the Isles may not be in serious consideration to win the cup this season, they still have a legitimate shot at the playoffs. Remember, this isn't the team that ended up with the 5th overall pick. With new additions Leddy and Boychuk leading the defense and Taveres as the captain, this will be a tough game for the Leafs if they are not ready to play. The one thing that the Leafs have to their advantage is that former Leaf Grabovski is out of the lineup and he is a useful player for the Isles. 

2) Get to Halak, he's a familiar foe. For those who are not familiar, Halak used to be the starting goalie for the Canadiens, and the Leafs have been able to get to him in the past. With him being close to home again, the Leafs need to get to Halak with a ton of shots on goal. He does have Vezina like numbers over his career, but if the Leafs are not ready to get the dirty goals, Halak might get an easy night in goal.

3) Score more goals. Speaking of goals, the Leafs have not been able to achieve enough of it. Since their big 6-3 win over the Rangers, the Leafs have scored a combined 4 goals in 3 games. That may be alarmingly low, but early season slumps will occur. What the Leafs need to do is get out of this drought as soon as possible because lack of goals will result in lost points and it may come back to haunt them if they are battling for a spot in March and April. Kessel, JVR, Kadri, and Lupul, I'm looking at you to score!

Predictions

I expect the two teams to put on a good show and provide some goals. It may result in a 4-3 win in overtime or the shootout with one member of the top line providing a goal. The power-play will break through in this one as well.

#TMLIMO

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

What should the Leafs do with their 2017 first round pick?

How the Leafs should deal with the expansion draft

Predicting the Leafs' 2017-18 Opening Night Lineup