LGD: Here’s Johnny, For The Last Time This Year

tavares
Photo Credit: Twitter/David Alter (@dalter)

The New York Islanders are back in town to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. This time around, they’re actually back in the playoff hunt, which isn’t overly surprising to those who saw a team with a bad coach and a lot of time spent leading and said “hey, something has to give here”.

Seeing them bounce back has been a fun story. But it’s less fun when they get in your way, so here’s what’s going down tonight.

The Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs lines courtesy of Daily Faceoff

Nothing changes. Nothing ever changes. Alexey Marchenko probably texted Frank Corrado this morning asking for advice.

The Islanders

New York Islanders lines courtesy of Daily Faceoff

Remember when the “best fourth line in hockey” was Matt Martin, Casey Cizikas, and Cal Clutterbuck? Well, Cizikas remains, but that current trio looks pretty damn good as well. I lowkey miss having Kulemin around, even if he has a wacky name spelling now.

Starting Goaltenders

Frederik Andersen is expected to start for the Leafs. He had a rough start to his game in Buffalo but was good for the bulk of the showing; he seems to be regaining some semblance of form lately.

Thomas Greiss gets the nod for the Islanders. After going 0.935 over 11 games in January, he’s struggled this month, putting up sub-0.900 performances in three of four appearances, one of which was a win against the Leafs. Will he continue to be the 0.878 goalie of February? The Leafs sure hope so.

What To Look Out For

As we all probably remember (it was only eight days ago), the last game between these two involved three key issues.

  • Ryan Strome scored within 90 seconds of puck drop
  • The Islanders were allowed to dominate the slot from Minute 1 to 63ish
  • The Leafs gave up a 4-1 lead and lost in overtime

These are all things the Leafs will look to avoid tonight. Recently, they’ve had games where they’ve been bad out of the gate, and games where they’ve been bad at the end. Tonight, they have to stretch 50 minutes to 60 minutes.

I’d settle for an overtime win (because I want the Islanders to squeak into the Metro picture as long as it doesn’t damage Toronto), but a convincing regulation victory is what they’ll really need to start the bounce-back.

Oh, and one more thing

We’re going to hear a lot more Tavares babbling today, since this is the last time the two teams face off this season. Don’t buy into it. This isn’t a situation like Steven Stamkos was last year, where mutual interest existed. Tavares rumours are easy gossip from the media, but as it stands right now, we’re yelling into the void about a player who is very loyal to his team, management, and ownership. Don’t be too shocked if the drama ends a year early and he signs an extension the first week of July.

Anyway, enjoy the game; it starts at 7:30 and you can catch it on TSN.