For a little while there, it looked like the Toronto Maple Leafs were beginning to turn things around. Climbing out of the league basement and, dare I say, within striking distance of a wildcard position, things have since fallen apart again.
With just one win in their last six games, the Leafs are once again a bottom feeder team, dead last in the Atlantic Division and 28th in the league. If you were hoping for success this year (wait, you weren’t, were you?), you’re going to be disappointed.
But if you were hoping for another year dedicated to rebuilding, you got it.
And if you were hoping for another high draft pick, well, the St. Louis Blues can probably help you with that.
After scoring just one goal in their last two games, Coach Babcock put the lines through a blender this morning and will be icing a much different-looking lineup tonight.
The biggest change is the dynamic duo of Nazem Kadri and Leo Komarov, who are now being paired with usual centreman Peter Holland on the second line while Tyler Bozak and P.A. Parenteau join James van Riemsdyk on the number one unit.
St. Louis used to strike me as a very good and solid team that lacked that elite talent to really put them over. As good as they are, Alex Steen and David Backes just don’t get me all that excited.
But now they have 23-year old Vladimir Tarasenko, who scores goals pretty much at will, and I’m legitimately scared of the Blues. Not only him, but there’s also a couple really nice looking youngsters playing on the lower lines, like Robby Fabbri and Dmitrij Jaskin, and that’s almost unfair.
As we wrote earlier today, the Leafs’ crease is a little messy right now. After coming back and putting up a great effort against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, James Reimer is back on the shelf after reaggravating his undisclosed injury. With Jonathan Bernier still on his AHL conditioning stint, that means Garret Sparks will be backed up by Antoine Bibeau tonight to form an all-Marlies tandem. Good thing the Blues aren’t like, a really good hockey team, or whatever.
At the other end of the ice, Jake Allen starts in goal for the Blues. He’s been very good, having solidified his hold of the starter’s job over Brian Elliott with a .926 SV% and a 2.13 GAA in 19 games this season. Good thing the Leafs aren’t like, a really bad offensive team, or whatever.
What to Watch For…
- Roman Polak will get a chance to say ‘hello’ to his former teammates tonight as they skate around him and score a goal or eight.
- Colton Parayko, the 6’5 right-handed 22-year old on the Blues’ blueline who’s busted out as a rookie with 13 points in 24 games. The kid has been turning a bunch of heads this season.
- Frank Corrado… No, just kidding.