Tonight in Carolina, the Leafs will get reacquainted with former buddy John-Michael Liles and the Carolina Hurricanes.
Liles was traded on New Year’s Day to the Hurricanes and that is where Leafs will attempt to get back on the winning track after a couple of games that couldn’t be described in any other way, other than humiliating.
A 7-1 shellacking at home to both the NY Rangers, and then a 5-3 loss to the NY Islanders and suffice to say, the Leafs have probably had far too much of the Big Apple for one week, maybe even a few weeks.
Even worse about the losses is they were put away in regulation time, no shootouts or overtime. New York four points, Leafs zero points.
Hopefully all of that will change in a matter of a couple of hours as we are about an hour or so away from puck drop down in Raleigh and Toronto needs two points to leapfrog Detroit in the standings as well as pad their lead over the Senators, who remain one point below Toronto.
Tonight is Liles’ first game against his old team and that also means it is Tim Gleason’s first against his own team. Throughout the NY Islanders game earlier this week, Gleason showed there is some chemistry there with himself and Captain Dion Phaneuf. Leafs brass is likely hoping for a little more of it tonight in Raleigh. Gleason can fight if needed too.
This is the third and final game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes. Carolina has split a pair in Toronto, using a three-goal third period to rally for a 3-2 win on Oct. 17 and losing 5-2 on Dec. 29 as Phil Kessel scored twice for the Maple Leafs.
For a Leaf victory tonight they are no doubt going to need a herculean effort from James Reimer in net tonight, at least compared to his last showing which was about three weeks ago when he got the hook in the first period after allowing three unanswered goals at the ACC when the Red Wings came to town.
Tyler Bozak has three goals and eight assists during an eight-game point streak for the Maple Leafs. Joffrey Lupul has goals in consecutive games. … Jeff Skinner has six goals and four assists during a five-game point streak for the Hurricanes. Alexander Semin has three goals and five assists in his past seven games.
INJURY REPORT: Toronto defenseman Carl Gunnarsson (upper body) and forward David Clarkson (foot) were out of the lineup Tuesday and are day-to-day. Forwards Dave Bolland (ankle) and Trevor Smith (hand) are on injured reserve. … Carolina forward Eric Staal (lower body) missed the past game and will likely miss a couple more. Ward (lower body) and forwards Riley Nash (lower body) and Jiri Tlusty (appendectomy) are on injured reserve.