LGD: Going Streaking

Welcome back, tank nation!  Yep, that’s right, the Leafs have lost 4 in a row and are quickly putting themselves back in contention for a top 5 pick in next June’s draft.  I bet you were starting to get worried there for a minute – the Leafs were actually playing good hockey and winning a lot of games.  But never fear, the Bruins are here, and they’re ready to help the Leafs continue their slide.

Okay, that might be a bit dramatic.  Yeah, the Leafs have lost 4 in a row, and they’ve only scored 3 goals during that stretch.  In other words, it’s not looking pretty.  But the Leafs were playing above-.500 hockey for the previous two months, so maybe expecting them to start their annual second-half collapse is a bit naive.  But hey, with James Van Riemsdyk out for the next 6-8 weeks and the likes of Tyler Bozak and Leo Komarov starting to dry up, you never know.

In any event, tonight should be an interesting game.  Do the Leafs end the skid, or does the losing streak reach 5?  I don’t think anybody knows entirely what to expect of this team for the next 40 games, and with the Leafs’ back up against the wall, tonight should be a good indicator of what the rest of the season has in store.

THE LEAFS

Expected lines via DailyFaceoff.com:

Screen Shot 2016-01-16 at 1.46.04 PM

The Leafs’ forward lines just look a lot less complete without Van Riemsdyk in the lineup.  Grabner playing alongside Kadri, the Leafs “top line” being Matthias-Bozak-Parenteau – it just doesn’t feel right.  Maybe it should come as little surprise that they’ve lost 4 in a row, and with Van Riesmdyk still on the shelf for at least 5 more weeks, maybe we should get used to more of the same.

And like, what can you really do to fix the problem?  Do you move Peter Holland up in the lineup?  Joffrey Lupul?  Give Josh Leivo some extra ice-time and see where that gets you?  All seem like reasonable options, and yet, all seem like band-aids at best.  If the Leafs are going to start scoring some goals in Van Riemsdyk’s absence, they better hope someone like Bozak, Komarov, or Kadri heats back up again.

THE BRUINS

Expected lines via DailyFaceoff.com:

Screen Shot 2016-01-16 at 1.48.46 PM

Unlike previous seasons, it’s really been the Bruins offense that’s doing the heavy lifting for them.  Patrice Bergeron has been stellar as always, Loui Eriksson is having a career renaissance of sorts, and Ryan Spooner has emerged as a legitimate top-six forward after spending a lot of years developing in the minors.  Side-note on the Bruins forwards: who the hell is Joonas Kemppainen?

STARTING GOALIES

Jonathan Bernier (6-11-3, .896%)

Tuukka Rask (14-3-4, .915%)

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Keep an eye out for the offenses of both teams.  The Bruins goal-scorers are rolling right now and their forwards have been excellent all season.  As for the Leafs, well, goal-scoring has plagued them more than a couple of times this season, and they’re certainly snake-bitten once again.  Can they get something going offensively tonight against a Bruins defense that always seems to play the Leafs well?

Oh yeah, and keep an eye out for both teams to be looking a little tired tonight.  The Leafs, as we know, lost yesterday in a game against the Blackhawks.  The Bruins also played last night, beating the Buffalo Sabres 4-1.

Enjoy the game everyone.