Date: Wednesday December 11, 2013
Puck Drop: 7:30pm ET
TV Channel: TSN
The Los Angeles Kings visit the Air Canada Centre on Tuesday night and bring with them a tidal wave of storylines for the producers of HBO’s 24/7 to make into brilliant TV over the next few weeks. First and foremost, we have the suspension of Maple Leafs Captain Dion Phaneuf, whose absence will only exacerbate the Leafs possession problems as one of the NHL’s best possession team’s comes to town.
Secondly we get to see Jonathan Bernier‘s first match up against his the team that drafted him. Ben Scrivens was intitially set to be his oppostion in battle between the pipes just 6 months after being involved in a trade for each other, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. One of the two is 2nd in the NHL in GAA and it isn’t the one that was given a lucrative contract extension just 54 starts into his NHL career. Ben Scrivens has been absolutely dynamite for the LA Kings with Jonathan Quick on the shelf, and is showing the NHL that the Leafs may have had that 1B goaltender all along before trading him for Bernier.
Joffrey Lupul will be making his return to the Leafs line up after a 7 game absence due to a groin strain. Lupul is expected to skate alongside Peter Holland and Nikolai Kulemin, although the way recent games have gone it will be fluid. While Lupul’s return is a boost, it is in no way even close to offsetting the monumental loss of Phaneuf on the back end. Despite consistently good-to-great play from Phaneuf, many Leafs fans still question his value to the team, and the next two games will be a wake up call to his doubters.
Many (including myself) are under the assumption that the Maple Leafs will be dominated by a superior Kings team, however that may not matter. The Leafs have essentially been dominated in each and every game (excepting Buffalo) for the past month, and that hasn’t stopped them from squeezing out victories. All they need to do is get yet another outstanding performance from Jonathan Bernier and get to the Kings third string goalie, but who really knows with this team.