Saturday, February 21, 2009

Canucks/Maple Leafs Game Day

The Canucks (29-21-8) are in the centre of the universe for Hockey Day in Canada for the second and final meeting of the year against the Toronto Maple Leafs (21-26-11).

In their previous meeting Nov. 15, the Canucks doubled up the Leafs 4-2 at GM Place. Ryan Kesler, Willie Mitchell, Daniel Sedin, and Kyle Wellwood scored the goals for Vancouver while Pavol Demitra chipped in three assists. Matt Stajan and Ian White were the only Leafs players to score on Roberto Luongo, who made 28 saves. At the other end of the ice, Vesa Toskala gave up all four goals on just nine shots before being replaced by Curtis Joseph.

To nobody's surprise, it was a huge media turnout for the morning skate today as Mats Sundin prepares to face his former team. He played 981 games as a Leaf, collecting a franchise record 987 points (420 goals and 567 assists). This day also marks the return of Wellwood to the Air Canada Centre. In 189 games with Toronto, Wellwood had 31 goals and 77 assists.

Vancouver has won seven of the last eight, and out-scored the opposition 35-22 in that stretch. Alex Burrows (1g,5a) and Daniel Sedin (2g,3a) both have three-game point scoring streaks heading into this game tonight. Those two, along with Henrik Sedin, combined for nine points in a 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators Thursday night.

The Leafs are coming off a 4-3 shoot-out loss on the road to the Columbus Blue Jackets two nights ago. Toronto has taken points in seven of their last ten games, but are 13 points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Jason Blake has been a nice surprise for the Leafs on a struggling team this season. The 35 year-old leads the team in goals (21), points (46), and shots (200).

Here are the expected line-ups for both teams tonight at the Air Canada Centre:


D.Sedin - H.Sedin - Burrows
Demitra - Sundin - Kesler
Raymond - Wellwood - Bernier
Pyatt - Johnson - Bolduc

Mitchell - Salo
Ohlund - Edler
Bieksa - O'Brien


Maple Leafs:

Alexi Ponikarovsky - Matt Stajan - Nik Antropov
Niklas Kulemin - Mikhail Grabovski - Niklas Hagman
Jason Blake - Dominic Moore - Lee Stempniak
John Mitchell - Jamal Mayers - Boyd Deveraux

Jeff Finger - Luke Schenn
Ian White - Pavel Kubina
Jonas Frogen - Jamie Sifers

Vesa Toskala
Curtis Joseph

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