Leafs aim for home edge
Mike Zeisberger, QMI Agency
|Leafs' Jonas Gustavsson makes a save with Ryan Kesler of the Canucks standing in front of the net during Saturday night's game in Vancouver. After losing two of three on their Canadian west trip, the Leafs now are home for a four-game stand. (Getty Images/AFP)
Having secured just two of a possible six points on their recently completed three-game road swing through the Canadian west, the Maple Leafs have returned to Toronto to what they hope is a successful run of home cooking.
The Leafs, who sport a record of 16-9-4 at the Air Canada Centre this season, kick off a four-game home stand when they host the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday evening.
Here’s a breakdown:
Tuesday: Devils @ Leafs — Leafs are 1-0-1 versus Devils this season, outscoring New Jersey 7-5 ... Defeated Devils 5-3 in Newark on Nov. 2 ... Devils responded by beating Leafs 3-2 in overtime on Dec. 6 ... Devils have really picked up their game under coach Peter DeBoer and have rocketed past the Leafs in the Eastern Conference standings.
Thursday: Sharks @ Leafs — Only meeting of the season between these two teams ... Coach Ron Wilson hopes defenceman Carl Gunnarsson (lower ankle sprain) will be back in time for this one ... Wilson would love to beat his former team, which still includes a couple of players who were mainstays during his time behind the San Jose bench, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.
Saturday: Capitals @ Leafs — Huge showdown between the two teams fighting for the eighth and final playoff spot in the eastern conference ... One of two remaining meetings between the Leafs and Caps, the other coming on March 11 at the MCI Center ... Leafs are 1-1 vs. Caps this season, outscoring Washington 9-5 ... Leafs humiliated Caps in their only previous visit to the ACC by a 7-1 score on Nov. 19 ... Caps responded with a 4-2 win at the MCI Center on Dec. 9.
Tuesday, Feb 28: Panthers @ Leafs — Like the Devils, the Panthers are another team the Leafs are looking up at in the Eastern Conference standings ... Panthers have owned the Leafs this season, winning both previous meetings while outscoring Toronto 10-4 ... Drubbed Leafs 5-1 at ACC back on Nov. 8, then defeated Toronto 5-3 in Sunrise on
Of the Leafs 23 remaining games, 12 are at the ACC.
Home: New Jersey, San Jose, Washington, Florida, Boston, Philadelphia, N.Y. Islanders, N.Y. Rangers, Carolina, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Tampa Bay.
Road: Chicago, Montreal, Pittsburgh, Washington, Florida, Tampa Bay, Ottawa, Boston, New Jersey, Buffalo, Montreal.
One of the problems the Leafs seem to be having now is the gap between their forwards and defenceman, allowing open ice for opponents. There’s a good chance it will be worked on at practice on Monday ... To hear the Canucks say it, the Leafs tend to take risks in order to generate more scoring chances, an alleged tendency Vancouver defenceman Kevin Bieksa claimed his team pounced on in its 6-2 vicotry over Toronto on Saturday night at the Rogers Arena. “They’re a pretty offensive team, and they cheat for offensive chances,” Bieksa said. “We knew if we took care of our end we’d be getting chances at the other end.”