The Leafs take on the struggling (?) New York Rangers away from home tonight. Game starts at 7:00 pm EST.
Here are four factors that could stand in their path to victory:
1) We’ve seen three different sides to the Leafs since the season’s start. There’s the “good” Leafs who shutdown the Pittsburgh Penguins on the way to victory and easily outplayed the Buffalo Sabres despite taking the loss. There’s also the “bad” Leafs who barely managed to beat an even worse team in Montreal. Finally, there’s the plain ol’ “ugly” Leafs who fell apart against the “mighty” New York Islanders. Which team shows up tonight?
2) Phil Kessel hasn’t been able to crack the scorecard since the team’s first game of the season. His recent inability to score goals, however, hasn’t been a major problem as some of the secondary players on the team like Nazem Kadri and Mikhail Grabovski have picked-up the slack. Having said this, it’s always nice when your “top” scorer is leading the team in goals. Will this be the night in which Kessel finally the net?
Nope. (He’s killing my hockey pool.)
3) Matt Frattin was recently called-up to fill Joffrey Lupul’s absence in the line-up. The young forward looked good in his season debut on Thursday, collecting three points (one goal, two assists) on the night and providing most of the team’s offence against the Islanders. How does he fare tonight?
4) James Reimer is expected to start in net after Ben Scrivens let in five goals on 25 shots against the Islanders. If true, this will only be Reimer’s second start of the young season, but it will also be another start against a tough Eastern Conference opponent (Reimer made his season debut against the Pittsburgh Penguins). For the most part, Scrivens has played well as the team’s de facto #1 goaltender. Nonetheless, his disappointing play against the Islanders on Thursday has opened room for Reimer to reclaim the top job in Toronto. Is Optimus Reim up to the challenge?
Reimer was the one bright spot in an otherwise disappointing and embarrassing effort by the Leafs. He made 37 saves on 41 shots and looked confident in stopping Rick Nash on a breakaway with the glove. Expect him to get the next start.
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