The Toronto Maple Leafs are set to take on the Carolina Hurricanes tonight in Raleigh. The Buds will have a bit of a different look to their lineup, with Matt Martin expected to be a healthy scratch for the first time as a Maple Leaf. Josh Leivo will likely make his way into the lineup, playing on the fourth line with Patrick Marleau and Connor Brown. The Leafs have dropped their last two to Arizona and Florida, while the Hurricanes fell 6-1 to the Rangers on Wednesday.
James Van Riemsdyk enters tonight's contest with five goals in his last six games. The first goal tonight will be very telling on the result, the Leafs are 11-4 when they strike first in games, while Carolina are 7-1-1.
Who to watch on Carolina
Teuvo Teravainen is coming in red hot with ten points in his last four games. The sneaky winger plays alongside Jordan Staal and Sebastian Aho, making for a very formidable top line. Ron Hainsey, who returns to Carolina for the first time as a Maple Leaf, and Morgan Rielly will have their work cut out for them tonight against that top line.
This match up has sneaky potential. The Leafs often struggle against the Hurricanes, but when you look at their roster, its quietly a very deep team. The Canes have the 30th ranked power play and often struggle to score goals, except of course against the Maple Leafs. Look for this game to have a lot of flow to it, and for teams to constantly trade chances (Basically, what I'm saying is that the coaches of both teams won't like this match up very much, but the fans might.)
Don't surprised if the Leafs continue their trend of coming out flat into games, and that could get them into trouble against a Carolina team that's successful when they score first.
Overall, there's some interesting storylines present, and I'm expecting a rather back and forth contest. Therefore, I'll hand out a solid 3/5 watchability rating for tonight's game.
Hyman - Matthews - Marner
van Riemsdyk - Bozak - Nylander
Komarov - Kadri - Soshnikov
Leivo - Marleau - Brown
Rielly - Hainsey
Gardiner - Zaitsev
Borgman - Carrick
Aho - Staal - Teravainen
McGinn - Ryan - Williams
Skinner - Lindholm - Di Guiseppe
Nordstrom - Kruger - Jooris
Slavin - Pesce
Fleury - Faulk
Hanifin - van Riemsdyk