Pay Back Large
First; the theme of the evening should be Pay Back. Not just for Sunday, but for all of the rip-off losses the Leafs have suffered versus Carolina. Brind'Amour, with his fancy apostrophe, should be the main target. Knock out the three teeth he has left. With only a 2-2-2 record at the ACC, the Leafs need to establish a stronger presence at home, and tonight is the perfect night to do that. The Hurricanes got away with one in Raleigh - they won't be so lucky in our building.
The 'Stache Stays?
Did Ian White do enough in his first game to earn a continued spot in the line-up? Scoring a goal was good start, but in the end it's the points in the standings that are going to count the most. The mustache kinda freaks me out. I wonder if White remembers me saying, "as long as he doesn't grow a mid-season beard, I'm cheering for Ian White." I should've included "or a porn-stache". Whatever. When we try to hide our frustration under facial hair, it can have strange results.
Carlo and the Shuffle D-Men
Colaiacovo played only 41 seconds in the third period. "Carlo got hit with a puck and was limping around," Wilson said.
Is Carlo injured? Does this count if he's a healthy scratch tonight, or does he have to be put on injury reserve for someone to win the pool? In any case, I don't expect him in the line-up as Coach Wilson did not seem pleased with his play, and should open up a spot on the blue line for either Frogren or Stralman to get back in. Hopefully the Leafs are looking to deliver a more physical game and Jonas will get the call.
It could be a good night to give Schenn a rest. Not a benching or a demotion. Just a rest, so he's 100% for the next two games, particularly Saturday against Montreal. He is just 18 years old, and nobody expects him to play all 82 games this year. Sitting Schenn would help Stralman get back in a little easier, but would leave the Leafs weaker defensively.
Could be time for Coach Wilson to send a message to Alex Steen by sitting him down for a game. So far, Steen has shown me surprisingly little, compared to the contributions of Hagman and Ponikarovsky. Statistically, he's way behind them, especially in shots on goal, with just 14 after 12 games. With his skills, he should be generating more offence, even if his primary responsibilities are defensive.
I'm looking for Mitchell to have another strong game. He looks like a player who responds well to the home crowd. Sunday's game was naturally deflating, but remember that after beating the Rangers, the Leafs had to travel to Carolina and then play a 5 o'clock start with a 41-year old back-up. What an embarrassment it would've been if Carolina hadn't won. As it was, they still needed some help from the refs to get it done. Mitchell and the Leafs will bounce back in Toronto. I expect a solid, physical, suffocating game. In fact, I expect the Leafs to thoroughly dominate for 60 minutes tonight. The Comeback Kids can have a go at being The Convincingly Better Team Throughout The Entire Game Gang.
Prediction: 4-0, Leafs.