The Philadelphia Flyers and the Toronto Maple Leafs meet tomorrow night for the first of their back-to-back games, and things couldn’t be more heated.
The Flyers are trying to secure the final eighth play-off spot and tie the seventh seeded Boston Bruins with 80 points.
On the other hand, the Leafs are in thirteenth place, eight points back of the Flyers, and have a great opportunity to close the point spread.
The Leafs and Flyers have prepared themselves well for their matchup, each boasting impressive records in their last eight games. The Flyers are 5-1-2 over than span, and the Leafs are 5-2-1.
In their last meeting, the Leafs banged up the Flyers and seemed to do everything right except win the game. Flyers goalie Antero Niittymaki stopped fifty-four shots to help keep his team in the win column, 3-2.
That night, in addition to being badly outshot, the Flyers also lost the services of Sami Kapanen and Joffrey Lupul, who was levelled to the ice after a crushing body check from teammate Derian Hatcher. The Flyers are still banged up and are missing the presence of their go-to guy, Mike Richards, who isn’t expected to return until this weekend at the earliest.
A big issue that should surface the papers by tomorrow is that nice "delivery" Downie gave Jason Blake. By delivery, I mean the punch to the face Downie threw while Blake had his arms tied behind his back from the refs. According to the Flyers’ website, Downie believes this is a dead issue and doesn’t expect anything to come of it. Lucky for him, Paul Maurice can’t send their old tough guy, Wade Belak, to return the favour. He‘s too busy soaking up the sun in Florida now.
Whether or not the issue is dead, and whether or not Downie is dressed for the game, I’m sure one of the Leafs players will remind him that it wasn’t very nice of him to do that, no matter what may have been said prior to that match-up that led to Downie to his decision to sucker-punch a man with leukemia.
Look for Vaclav Prospal to turn in his first strong performance with his new team since the deadline. Prospal is long over due for a solid game and the Leafs should be aware of what he may be brewing for them.