Game 39 Preview: Leafs at Hurricanes

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Toronto Maple Leafs (18-14-4) at Carolina Hurricanes (12-20-6)
7 p.m. RBC Center
TV: FS-Carolinas, Leafs TV

It took a super-human effort from Cam Ward to get the Canes a point the last time they played the Leafs, so hopefully he won’t need to stand on his head tonight for the Canes to win. Carolina has given up 30 or more shots in at least 20 games this season and I’m not sure if that’s first in the NHL but I would not be surprised if it is. They are tied with the Minnesota Wild for the most shots allowed per 60 minutes at even strength and this is one thing that needs to change if the Hurricanes want to start winning more games. Hence why I will consider tonight’s game a moral victory if the team gives up less than 25 shots…although that prediction could come back to bite me in the ass if the Leafs manage to win despite that.

Lines & more after the jump


Tlusty – Staal – Dalpe
Ponikarovsky – Jokinen – Ruutu
Bowman – Sutter – LaRose
Stewart – Brent – Nodl

Gleason – McBain
Faulk – Harrison
Allen – Spacek



MacArthur – Bozak – Kessel
Kulemin – Grabovski – Frattin
Kadri – Connolly – Lupul
Boyce – Steckel – Crabb

Phaneuf – Aulie
Gunnarsson – Schenn
Gardiner – Franson


What happpened last time?

Canes had a good 10 minutes and had a powerplay in the first period but after that? All Toronto. Like I said, Cam Ward had to stand on his head to even earn the Canes a point, which he did. That and a timely powerplay goal late in the third from the former Leaf Alexei Ponikarovsky. Carolina’s seen some changes to their forward corps with Tlusty and Dalpe now on the first line and Chad LaRose having third line duties with Drayson Bowman now. LaRose is coming off an awful game so I’m hoping to see a rebound from him. The Leafs lines have been changed a bit too as Keith Aulie is filling in for John-Michael Liles who is out with a concussion. He’ll be playing on the top-pairing with Phaneuf, which is where he played for most of last year. Colby Armstrong is also out with a concussion and the former first round pick Nazem Kadri is playing in his spot. He’s had a very successful call-up with two goals in three games and might stick around for a little longer if he can stay consistent. You’ll also notice that Joffrey Lupul has been moved down to the third line with Clark MacArthur getting a promotion to the first unit. MacArthur isn’t one of the Leafs better possession players but he’s got four points in three games, which is good enough to earn that promotion. Our defense pairings may have their hands full if Mikhail Grabovski can build on that two-goal performance against Florida or if Tim Connolly can work well on the third line. Speaking of which, Bozak has been inferior to Connolly all year so I’m curious as to why he’s playing with Kessel on the first line.

One last note, Tuomo Ruutu has a six game point streak while Eric Staal hasn’t recorded a point in six games. I’d be willing to trade one streak for another if you know what I’m saying.

Enjoy the game.