The Blues played 2/3rds of a decent hockey game in Philly on Friday night. Not a great game, but a decent one. Then, somehow, things broke down and the third period happened. If there any lessons to be learned from that game, tonight is a perfect opportunity to apply them. One lesson: don't stop 'til you get enough goals to win.
This is one of the highlights of the season for me. I'm friendly with a number of Maple Leafs fans, and it's always a fun time when I can watch my team through their eyes. I know just from rough memory that the Blues usually win these games, but I was completely dumbstruck when I read this closing sentence from the official game preview on the Blues website
The Maple Leafs have not defeated the Blues in regulation on home ice since Feb. 4, 1998.
Whoa. That is 17 years, man. 17! That is bad. As in, the opposite of good.
The current incarnation of the Toronto Maple Leafs doesn't look to stop that trend either. After years of promising starts and late season collapses, the Leafs have fired their coach and now have committed to actually rebuilding the team. Since the beginning of February, the Leafs have traded away 9 players and claimed another off of waivers. That is a lot of turnover in a short amount of time. In this case, in particular, Change is a Good Thing. Like we've seen in other cities like Buffalo and Phoenix/Glendale, some of the fans are on board with tanking and the rebuild. There are some who wonder if the Leafs can even win the lottery and get in on the McDavid sweepstakes. It could happen.
As for this game ... well, this is just the third one since the trade deadline, and the Leafs are still probably adjusting to the roster changes. There are enough goal-scorers on this team for something off the wall to happen; the Blues can't just assume this is an automatic win. There is still a lot of talent up front. Phil Kessel leads the team in goals (23) and overall points (51). Right behind is James van Riemsdyk with 22 goals, 24 assists, for 48 points. Tyler Bozak (18g, 22a) and Nazem Kadri (16g, 20a) are next in points. The next two highest scorers were both traded together to the Preds on 02/15 and still rank high on the Toronto scoring list.
No surprise then, that the Leafs are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games. They are averaging about 33 shots on goal allowed per game ... surely this can help get the Blues back on the winning track. This game could be an outright thriller. Someone that didn't move during the trade deadline is Roman Polak . He'll be back in the blue and white again tonight, and he'll be joined by recent addition Eric Brewer . Another big story line for tonight is Olli Jokinen and his "return" to Toronto. He's had an interesting last few weeks. He was traded from Nashville to Toronto on 02/15, and then traded again to St Louis on 03/02 in a deadline deal that sent Joakim Lindstrom to the Leafs. Lots of things going on here involving former teammates.
Elliott is in goal for the Blues, and the Leafs will probably have Jonathan Bernier in net (2.73 GAA, .915 Sv%).
Blues vs Maple Leafs coverage
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Final Verse: Eastern time, so an early start tonight. The puck drops at 6:00 PM St Louis time, and the GDT should be along shortly before that. The TV broadcast is on Fox Sports MW, and the radio call will be on KMOX 1120. This is also a Hockey Night In Canada game, so you might try to find that broadcast as well. You can't beat it for hockey coverage. Either way, please come join us in the GameDay Thread, it should be a fun one. Until then,