Tonight the Leafs hit the road and face-off against the Washington Capitals. They’ll want to avenge a brutal 4-1 home loss to the Carolina Hurricanes last night. Action starts at at 7:00 pm EST.
Here are four factors that could stand in the their path to victory:
1) Ben Scrivens will occupy the net tonight. This will be his first start since being pulled against the New York Islanders on January 24th. James Reimer replaced Scrivens in that game and has basically held onto the starter’s job ever since. It was Scrivens, however, who was projected to hold the top job at the start of the season so tonight he has a bit of an opportunity to push back. Does he play well enough to once again unsettle the team’s newfound goaltending arrangement? (Is this even desirable?)
Scrivens put in another solid effort, beating the Capitals 3-2. Despite getting the win, I still think he looks awkward. He has trouble managing the puck and often moves out of position. Having said that, Lady Luck seems to like him as the bounces often go his way. Until a stronger challenge is presented, expect Reimer to continue carrying the bulk of the workload in net.
2) Captain Dion Phaneuf and sniper Phil Kessel haven’t yet found the back of the net. At the same time, the Leafs’ power play has been virtually non-existent for the most part this season. Both players are key pieces to the team’s strategy on the man advantage. Thus, don’t expect a turnaround on the power play until these two players are able to turnaround their own games. Is that time tonight?
Kessel contributed two assists while Phaneuf played a solid 28+ minutes on defence. Neither player, however, put one in the net. Patience is already thin in Leafs Nation. When will the big guys start to contribute in the goals column?
3) The Leafs have ten fighting majors in nine games so far this season. Rough play has been a huge part of the Leafs’ game under head coach Randy Carlyle. It allowed them to compete against the Boston Bruins on Saturday and kept yesterday’s game interesting up until the point where the Hurricanes ran away with the lead. Is their enough fight left in the Leafs to “beat” the Capitals tonight?
There were no fighting majors on the night and the number of penalties was kept relatively low overall. The Leafs only made five trips to the sin bin. Unfortunately, Washington was able to Capitalize (get it?!) on two of those chances.
4) Alexander Ovechkin hasn’t scored since last playing against the Leafs on January 31st. Do the Leafs help him reach the magical number of 3 goals on the season?
The Leafs were able to keep Ovechkin from registering a goal, but they weren’t able to keep him off the scorecard. He earned an assist – only his fifth point this season – on Mike Ribeiro’s goal. Whatever happened to the once GR8? Who cares?
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