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Maple Leafs At Blues Preview: Sparks Fly

The Blues will need to capitalize on the Maple Leafs' shaky goaltending situation. Can they get a confidence boost out of scoring on an AHL goaltender?

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Maple Leafs are having goaltending issues. After the rise (and quick fall) of Garret Sparks, the Leafs sent Jonathan Bernier down to the Marlies for a ten-game conditioning stint. Yesterday, after this game's morning thread was written (this is what I get for efficiency). the Leafs announced that starter James Reimer is day to day with an injury. They've recalled AHL backup Antoine Bibeau for tonight's game, which makes Sparks the de-facto starter.

Seeing as how the Blues can make back-up goaltenders look like the second coming of their own assistant GM, who will they make an AHL starter look like, Jacques Plante?

The Blues have scored a whopping 25 goals in their last 11 games. This is an annual occurrence, this goal scoring struggle. Often, the Blues can work their way out of it due to solid defensive play, but so far that hasn't been the case. The Blues have allowed 31 in the same stretch of games. They're a meh 4-3-3 in their last ten, and sit eight points behind the Dallas Stars for first in the Central Division. Their play is forcing them to tread a fine line between a playoff lock and a wild card spot, and this is with nearly everyone back from injury save Jaden Schwartz and Patrik Berglund.

Keep in mind, the Blues' troubles last season happened with Schwartz out of the line-up. It's looking more and more like he's this team's offensive lynchpin.

Speaking of injury, we all saw this last night:

Parayko came back and finished the game, shocking fans and the team. If he's in tonight is a matter of how he feels today, but the fact that he returned to play last night was a miracle.

At this point in the season, the December Doldrums, the Blues blowing another team out feels like a miracle too. If they can take a cue from the Winnipeg Jets and lay six goals on Sparks, that would be nice. If they could manage three, I'd be thrilled. Snapping out of this slump is going to take a lot more than winning on an AHL goaltender, but whatever gets them going is fine.