The Leafs will look to end their recent slide against a team even more injured than they are.
With just 2 wins in their last 8 games and underlying numbers that suggest the struggles are only going to continue, the Leafs play the final game of a 7-game road trip tonight in Winnipeg.
The injuries are beginning to mount up for the Leafs. It has been announced that Joffrey Lupul is out 4 weeks, Nazem Kadri is out 7-10 days, and Peter Holland is week-to-week. The Leafs actually played pretty well against Minnesota last night, especially considering the lineup they dressed, and will look to play at a similar level with a different result against the Jets. Here are the expected lines:
James van Riemsdyk-Tyler Bozak-Phil Kessel
Leo Komarov-Trevor Smith-David Clarkson
Richard Panik-Greg McKegg-Mike Santorelli
Carter Ashton-Daniel Winnik-David Booth
Dion Phaneuf-Cody Franson
Morgan Rielly-Roman Polak
Jake Gardiner-Korbinian Holzer
Winnipeg has been ravaged by even more injuries than the Leafs, with Evander Kane, Tobias Enstrom, Zach Bogosian, and Jacob Trouba all out long-term. Winnipeg’s first forward line looks familiar and their second one looks okay when you consider they are battling injuries, but after that the lineup gets pretty thin. Dustin Byfuglien is the only defenseman they have capable of eating big minutes, and Jets head coach Paul Maurice prefers him at forward. Here is their expected lineup tonight:
Andrew Ladd-Bryan Little-Blake Wheeler
Matthieu Perrault-Mark Schiefele-Michael Frolik
Chris Thorburn-Adam Lowry-Matt Halischuk
T.J. Galiardi-Jim Slater-Anthony Peluso
Ben Chiarot-Dustin Byfuglien
Jay Harrison-Grand Clitsome
Adam Pardy-Paul Postma
With Jonathan Bernier starting last night in Minnesota, Manitoba native James Reimer (15GP, .905Sv%) is expected to start in goal against Winnipeg. 24-year-old Michael Hutchinson (15GP, .937Sv%) has recently stolen the crease from long-time Jets starter Ondrej Pavelec, and he is expected to get the start opposite Reimer.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
- How the lines are maneuvered. Will Randy Carlyle switch things up at all? Might Santorelli move back to the middle? Could Stephane Robidas draw back in? How will the ice-time be distributed? I don’t like the lines as currently constructed, but the Leafs did play fairly well yesterday against a good Minnesota team. It will be especially interesting to see how the Leafs play given that it’s the tail end of a back-to-back.