In their last six games the Capitals and Maple Leafs both have less than brag-worthy 1-4-1 records. As Washington tries to break out of its slump at Air Canada Centre tonight, though, it will do so against a beat up Maple Leafs club.
Toronto will be without the aid of seven regulars, including their No. 1 goaltender James Reimer. Those on the injury list are Colby Armstrong, Mike Komisarek, Matthew Lombardi, Clarke MacArthur, Mikhail Grabovski and Mike Brown.
“I think both teams could use a win pretty badly at this stage, should make for an interesting contest,” said Coach Bruce Boudreau, who won’t discount Toronto. “Whoever they put in, they’re extremely fast and speed kills in this game.”
The latest recall for the Maple Leafs is Joe Colborne, who is expected to play with Joey Crabb and former Capital David Steckel in what will be just his second NHL game.
“He was player of the month in the American Hockey League. It’s fairly easy to get that opportunity,” Toronto Coach Ron Wilson said. “We’re missing so much skill, we needed a skill player to put in.”
Said Steckel: “I think the guys here who are stepping in take it as an opportunity to play well. As a team, that’s what we’re going to have to do. We can’t have passengers. All 20 guys have to be going on a nightly basis until some of the guys can come back.”
Wilson has opted to start Jonas Gustavsson against the Capitals in what is the first half of back-to-back games for the Leafs, who travel to Carolina immediately after Satruday’s game. Gustavsson has experience against Washington, yes, but it hasn’t been overwhelmingly impressive at 1-1-1, an .871 save percentage and 3.93 goals-against average.
If there were ever an opportunity for the Capitals to ease their recent woes, Toronto may be just the place for it. Not to mention that Alex Ovechkin is has 14 goals and 18 points in 12 career appearances at Air Canada Centre.