Date: Monday December 16, 2013
Puck Drop: 7:00 pm ET
TV Channel: Sportsnet-O
Christmas came early for Leafs fans in the form of an actual competent performance from their team in all facets of the game against the best team in the NHL. While they still lost the possession battle, it was against the Chicago Blackhawks, one of the best possession teams in the NHL. Besides, when you score 7 goals in a game it doesn’t really matter what Corsi has to say about it.
The Leafs will be looking to once again bring their A-game as Deathcember continues with a trip into Pittsburgh to take on Sidney Crosby (aka the Crosbud) and his hobbled Pittsburgh Penguins. Despite a rash of injuries that make the Leafs woes look like papercuts, the Pens currently have a sizeable lead atop the woeful Metropolitan Division.
Heading into tonight’s game the Pens are expected to be without all four of their top defenseman (can you imagine a d-core anchored by a Franger pairing?) as well as two of the top players in the world, Evgeni Malkin and James Neal. With their tough schedule of late, facing a depleted Penguins team is a prime opportunity for the Leafs to entrench their current spot in the standings..
Despite an average performance against the Blackhawks, Jonathan Bernier will get his 4th start in 5 games on Monday night. Depsite outplaying Bernier so far this year it appears as if Randy Carlyle will make James Reimer fight to the death for the chance to get a fair shake at the starting job despite Reimer’s role in saving Carlyle’s job last season.
The Hockey Gods frown upon Carlyle’s unfair treatment of James Reimer, therefore Randy Carlyle will be punished. The Leafs put up a spirited effort, but another lacklustre performance (check out his SV% over the last month) from Bernier does in the Leafs. 5-3 Pittsburgh.