The Leafs return home tonight after an embarrassing road loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday. They’ll be greeted by the red-hot Pittsburgh Penguins, who have won their last six games. Puck drops at 7:00 pm EST.
Here are four factors that could stand in the Leafs’ path to victory:
1) Ben Scrivens will get the start tonight over James Reimer. Scrivens made a brief relief appearance in Tuesday’s loss, allowing a goal on the first shot he faced. The Spruce Grove, Alberta native hasn’t started a game since March 7th when he lost 4-2 to the Boston Bruins. Does Scrivens excel in his return to the spotlight?
Scrivens looked sharp throughout the game and played well enough to earn another start. He cannot be blamed for the Leafs’ third period collapse.
2) Speaking of lineup changes, John-Michael Liles will be playing tonight in place of Michael Kostka. Liles has six points (1 goal, 5 assists) in 15 games this season. He is being brought back to help the Leafs’ power play, which couldn’t capitalize on a 5-3 against the Jets. Can Liles presence rejuvenate the team’s lame offence?
Liles took a questionable penalty in the first period, then quickly settled down. He only played 16 minutes, but generated 4 shots in that time. The Leafs can use his offensive presence.
3) Phil Kessel’s hot streak continues. He has nine points (5 goals, 4 assists) in five games, including two goals on Tuesday. He now shares the team lead for points with Nazem Kadri. Can Kessel continue to find the back of the net?
Kessel helped setup the Leafs’ only goal on the night and now stands alone for the team lead in points. This is quite the turnaround considering how slow Kessel’s season began.
4) The Leafs’ strong road record failed them on Tuesday. Now they hope their weak home record of 6-5-1 can stand the test of the Penguins. A decent balance between home wins and away wins is absolutely critical to making the playoffs as last season proved. Can the Leafs improve their record at the Air Canada Centre?
They almost got the win. Does that count?
Bonus Question: There’s this kid named Sidney Crosby on the Penguins. Can the Leafs keep him off the scorecard?
Things looked good until Crosby broke free and propelled the Penguins to two third period goals.
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