Toronto Maple Leafs
@ Winnipeg Jets
Saturday, Dec 31, 2011, 7:00 PM EST
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The annual New Years Eve game at the MTS Centre takes on a new twist this year as instead of those ratty tatty old Manitoba Moose playing, we get to see the shiny and new Winnipeg Jets! And some team from Toronto...
The Jets and Maple Leafs square off in what is as important a game in December can be in terms of playoff implications. This has the potential to be a 4 point swing game as the Jets could find themselves 2 points up on the Leafs by nights end, or 2 points down. Or 1 point up. Or 1 point down. But definitely not tied.
The Jets are coming off a 1-0 win in OT over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night in a game that saw them without Bryan Little, Dustin Byfuglien, Jim Slater and Chris Mason's new goalie pads. Overall a satisfactory result given the circumstances. And while the Jets are still likely to be without all of those things except potentially Slater, who took warmup and seemed to be close to 100% Thursday, they should still be able to hang tough with the boys from T.O.
Keys to the Game, Player Numbers and Lineups coming right up after THE JUMP
Keys to the Game:
- Shut down the top line of the Leafs and you're pretty much set. Kessel and Lupul provide most of the offense for this team, so if you shut those two down all you have to deal with is truculence, testosterone and grit.
- Avoid taking bad or non-existent penalties like against L.A. It really kills your teams chances when your top point getters are stuck on the bench because you have to kill off penalty after penalty
- I sure hope the IceCaps don't expect Mark Flood back ever. Because he plays to well to be sent down.
- If Nik Antropov plays as lazy and uninspired as he did on Thursday I'm going to have strong words for him in the next preview. You've been warned Antro.
- Make sure the Leaf fans in attendance don't have anything to cheer about. "At least we still have 1967" should be all I hear from their fans afterwards
- "Hometown" boy James Reimer seems pleased as punch to be playing in Manitoba. Let's be sure to give him the friendly away goaltenders welcome
- The loss of Dustin Byfuglien seemed quite evident on the power play, and hopefully someone can fill the Buff void without taking on the Bustin' persona.
- The Jets find themselves in the top 8, which is all well and good. But until we usurp Florida and take our rightful place at the top of the...Southeast Division...we need to stay hungry and take advantage of playing in the phone booth.
- "If we do what we have to do, we'll be ok."- Patrice Cormier
#9 Evander Kane - #14 Tim Stapleton - #26 Blake Wheeler
#16 Andrew Ladd - #80 Nik Antropov - #13 Kyle Wellwood
#15 Tanner Glass - #8 Alexander Burmistrov - #20 Antti Miettinen
#17 Eric Fehr - #28 Patrice Cormier - #22 Chris Thorburn
#39 Tobias Enstrom - #6 Ron Hainsey
#29 Johnny Oduya - #4 Zach Bogosian
#5 Mark Stuart - #36 Mark Flood
#31 Ondrej Pavelec
I dig it when Evander Kane rocks it like a hurricane. Nbd
Foliage (GP 37 18-14-5 41 PTS)
#19 Joffrey Lupul -- #42 Tyler Bozak -- #81 Phil Kessel
#39 Matt Frattin -- #84 Mikhail Grabovski -- #41 Nikolai Kulemin
#16 Clarke MacArthur -- #12 Tim Connolly -- #43 Nazem Kadri
#47 Darryl Boyce -- #20 David Steckel -- #46 Joey Crabb
#3 Dion Phaneuf -- #59 Keith Aulie
#2 Luke Schenn -- #51 Jake Gardiner
#36 Carl Gunnarsson -- #4 Cody Franson
#34 James Reimer
Player to boo without mercy: Kessel...and Lupul...and Phaneuf. I'm really not a fan of the Leafs so you can boo whoever you want and I'll be fine with it.
Prediction: Winnipeg 4-3 Toronto
Her's hoping the Jets don't drop the ball on New Years Eve. Leave that to Ryan Seacrest.