Another hockey game that will do wonders for the Leafs in the standings is taking place tonight. Leafs will meet the Pittsburgh Penguins who just happen to be riddled with injuries.
Here they are: Kris Letang, lower body injury, Evgeni Malkin, leg injury, both are questionable, and by the sounds of it, doubtful. Defencemen Paul Martin, broken leg, Rob Scuderi, broken ankle, Brooks Orpik, head injury (injured by Shawn Thornton of Boston), forwards Tanner Glass, broken hand, Andrew Ebbett, broken ankle and Beau Bennett broken wrist are all out. On top of all of that, forward James Neal is serving a suspension for his illegal hit to the head on Boston’s Brad Marchand.
On the Leafs’ side of the IR, Colton Orr is still out with an elbow injury, and is questionable to play, forward David Clarkson is serving the last game of his two-game suspension for his check to the head of St. Louis forward Vladimir Sobotka. Centres Tyler Bozak is still out with an oblique strain and David Bolland remains out indefinitely with an lacerated ankle.
Now that all of that stuff is out in the open, let’s get talking about who is playing.
This is the third and final matchup between the two teams. Pittsburgh is currently on top of the East, while Leafs are trying to build on some momentum that they got while ass-raping the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night.
The Pens won the last meeting, a 6-5 SO win on home ice on Nov. 27. Leafs won in October on home ice.
Toronto is probably going to need those same players who chipped in so nicely on Saturday to come through and do it again, in order to remain in the playoff chase.
Pittsburgh has won eight of its past nine games, however Sidney Crosby is about the only player who remains healthy enough to play.
This week in particular is as hard as it’s ever been as they hit a small list of Stanley Cup contenders that have included LA, St. Louis, San Jose and Boston, plus Pittsburgh tonight and this week’s schedule includes a Saturday-night showdown with the boys from Motown.
All is not well in Pittsburgh, however; the Penguins, already dealing with injuries on their blue line, could also be without Evgeni Malkin, who suffered a leg injury against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.
TURN THINGS AROUND
Whether that win fully turned the tide for Toronto remains to be seen, but the opportunity is there. After facing the Penguins on Monday, Toronto will close out 2013 playing three of its next six games against teams not currently in playoff position.
All of this becomes more impressive considering Pittsburgh is currently riddled with injuries. Four of the Penguins’ top defensemen are currently hurt, and its possible Malkin, who was hurt after sliding feet first into the boards Saturday, will be out Monday.
Pittsburgh could also be without defenseman Deryk Engelland, who is hearing with the department of player safety after a hit on Detroit forward Justin Abdelkader on Saturday.
Who’s hot: Maple Leafs left wing Nikolai Kulemin has four points in his past four games. … Penguins center Sidney Crosby has scored five goals and added five assists during his current six-game point streak.