If there was one game that I think the Maple Leafs really need to win, I would say that game would be the one tonight in which they play host to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
LIGHTNING (31-16-5) at MAPLE LEAFS (27-21-6)
TV: TSN, SUN
Last 10: Tampa Bay 6-3-1; Toronto 6-3-1
This will be the first of four games between the Leafs and the top team based out of the state of Florida. The Lightning are on a hot streak coming into Toronto. The last time these two teams met it was April 2013 and Martin St. Louis scored the hat trick.
Guess what, ladies and gentlemen? He is back and it is safe to say he is pissed.
Snubbed not long ago by HIS OWN GM Stevie Yzerman, the guy nicknamed ‘mighty mouse’ is on a mission and I would not want to be either Leaf goalie tonight (probably Jonathan Bernier).
Tampa Bay is only two points back of the league-leading Boston Bruins. Tampa has won three straight games. Martin St. Louis has piled up 52 points as a 38-year-old.
Toronto is hoping to avoid a fifth-straight losing skid tonight on a night where #BellLetsTalk has dominated Twitter newsfeeds everywhere and that is bound to continue into the night.
Tampa Bay used a hat trick from Tyler Johnson and 25 saves from Ben Bishop to beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2 on Saturday. The Lightning begin a four-game road trip in Toronto, knowing how critical it will be to pick up points.
As everyone in Leafland knows, the boys had a six-game win streak put together…then lost two games, in which both goalies were shelled, then pulled. That does not usually happen with this team, or any team.
The Leafs are unique.
Reporters on Twitter scared a bunch of us a few times the other say saying that both Kessel and van Riemsdyk had both left practice early with injuries but were never too clear on what they were. Nobody wants to see these guys (or anybody else) get hurt but they did return so nothing apparently was serious (whew!).
Randy Carlyle told the media that both men will be available for tonight’s crucial contest.
I love how coy Mr. Carlyle is with just about everything.
“I’ve [been] told as of this morning, they will be available for tomorrow,” Carlyle said after practice. “We’ve got people with taped elbows and taped wrists and ankles. Those things happen over the course of the season.”
The Maple Leafs enter the game seven points behind the Lightning in the Atlantic Division.
Kessel has five goals in five games for the Maple Leafs. Nazem Kadri has points in five of six games (one goal, six assists).
Injury report: In addition to Stamkos, Lightning defensemen Brian Lee (knee) and Mattias Ohlund (knee) are on injured reserve. … The Maple Leafs have three players on IR: forwards David Clarkson (elbow), Dave Bolland (ankle) and Trevor Smith (hand). The latter two skated Monday at practice in non-contact jerseys.