Date: Thursday November 21, 2013
Puck Drop: 7:00pm ET
TV Channel: LeafsTV
The Toronto Maple Leafs are set to welcome the Nashville Predators to the Air Canada Centre on Thursday night, as Nazem Kadri returns to the line up following a 3-game absence due to suspension. Despite a semi-respectable 22 points in 21 games so far this season, the Predators are sitting in dead last in the Central Division. For a little perspective, the same point total would have them sitting third in the moribund Metropolitan Division.
Nashville’s struggles are easy to diagnose, they have struggled to put the puck in the net this season, managing just 2.28 goals per game, while never a high flying team, the Predators offensive struggles this season have been compounded with the loss of star goaltender Pekka Rinne, who has been out with a scary hip infection. Without Rinne providing world-class goaltending, the Predators have yet to really get on track.
After Rinne went down, the Preds gave up an atrocious 4 goals per game in the first nine games of his absence. They may have turned a corner however with rookie netminder
Nashville, however, has looked like a much different club the past two contests behind Marek Mazanec stepping between the pipes. The 22-year old Czech has managed to stop 66 of 68 shots in the Predators wins over Chicago and Detroit.
After winning 2 of 3 games with Nazem Kadri out of the line up, the Leafs are looking to continue their solid play, and find a way to integrate newest Leaf Peter Holland into his new role, now that Kadri is back and skating in the coveted spot between James van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel.
Following a scoring drought that saw them score just four goals while struggling to a 1-3-1 record over their previous five contests, the Leafs have regained their offensive form with nine goals in back-to-back wins over the Sabres and Islanders to open this five-game home stand. With the two wins, the Leafs have now won 5 straight games at the Air Canada Centre, outscoring their opposition 18-8. If the Leafs manage to get the win tonight over the Predators, it will be the first 6 game home winning streak at the ACC since a nine-game run from March 6-April 7, 2007.
The Leafs continue their strong play, and win a close one 2-1.