NHL Preview: Philadelphia Flyers at Toronto Maple Leafs
Flyers (5-6-1) at Maple Leafs (7-5-0), 7 p.m., CSN
Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Canada
After a very successful four-game homestand, the Philadelphia Flyers take the road for a six-game trip. Their first stop is across the border to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs. But wait, don’t you mean the Maple Laughs?
Not so fast.
Surprisingly, Toronto is playing some good hockey right now, tying for fifth in the Eastern Conference. They are coming off a dominating 6-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. After struggling to start the season, sniper Phil Kessel has come on lately, posting six points over the last three contests. He’s starting to get hot for the Leafs, which could very well be trouble for the opposition. While Kessel has been playing well lately, another forward has been much more impressive this year.
Former Flyer James van Riemsdyk will play in his first game since being traded to the Leafs on Monday night. He is off to a hot start, posting seven goals and two assists in 12 games, which makes Flyer fans a tad frustrated. However, while van Riemsdyk has been impressive, their part of the trade hasn’t been anything to frown about either. Defenseman Luke Schenn has instantly become a fan favorite in Philadelphia with his big hits and physical play. Monday night will be his first game dressing in the visitor’s locker room at the Air Canada Centre.
“It’s a fresh start in Philadelphia,” Schenn said. “But obviously, a lot of great memories here in Toronto, and I really enjoyed my four years here.”
With these two story lines alone, Monday night’s contest should make for an intriguing one.
Between the Pipes
For the Flyers, Ilya Bryzgalov will make his 12th start of the season. He has clearly been the Flyers rock in 2013, but looked a tad bit shaky during Saturday afternoon’s victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. In other goalie news, backup Michael Leighton (finger) will be sidelined for 7-10 days, forcing Brian Boucher to be called up from Adirondack.
Toronto will go with James Reimer in the cage, who has actually been pretty solid for the Leafs … no, seriously. He is posting a GAA of 2.30 to match a save percentage of .929.
Keys to Win
Don’t let emotions get in way: With Schenn’s return to Toronto and JVR’s reunion with his former team, there will be a fair share of emotions surrounding this game. Don’t let there be. This is the start of a six-game road trip and all focused should be solely on winning.
Bring garlic: After taking a bite out of Max Pacioretty, it is safe to assume that Leaf’s Mikhail Grabovski may in fact be a vampire. Okay, maybe not, but his disciplinary phone call took place around 11 this morning and will not be fined or suspended. Watch out, Flyers.
Pepper Reimer with shots: Garlic, pepper, who doesn’t love condiments? Anyway, Reimer has been impressive this year, but the Flyers have had his number recently. They scored four goals on him last season in his only start against the Flyers. Don’t allow him to continue to stay in the zone, pressure him early and often.
Flyers are riding a 5-game winning streak against the Leafs.
Wayne Simmonds returned from a concussion on Saturday, logging a littler over 15 minutes of ice time.
Toronto is aiming for their first four-game win streak since January of last season.