The Maple Leafs are in Columbus tonight to take on the Blue Jackets. Here are the three keys for a successful visit.
Erase the past
Toronto did not look good against the Blue Jackets last season, losing all three games, and two of those were blowouts. Even worse: Two of those three losses came off the heels of impressive wins against Anaheim and Washington. The Leafs had their most complete game of the season on Tuesday and need to build off it. “It was just one win, we didn’t accomplish anything (yet),” said Roman Polak of Tuesday’s victory. “We have to keep going and play 60 minute games, the only one we’ve played this season."
Get ’em while they are down
The Blue Jackets are missing eight regulars from their lineup due to injury. And they are of the highest calibre: Starting goaltender and 2013 Vezina Trophy winner, Sergei Bobrovski is out with a broken finger. Their top line of Brandon Dubinsky, Nathan Horton and Boone Jenner are also sidelined, and so is top defenceman James Wisniewski. While the team should still not to be taken lightly, the same tact and approach that the Leafs took in Buffalo will equal a win against Columbus, should they play the same way.
Neutralize Ryan Johansen
The forward is on fire as of late, despite missing virtually all of training camp, collecting 12 points in nine games this season. He poses the toughest challenge for the Leafs defencemen: Johansen has five points in four games against Toronto in his career.
David Clarkson made his Leafs debut last season in Columbus after missing the first 10 games due to suspension. It was referenced then as probably the most anticipated Leafs/Blue Jackets game of all time. That was the beginning of a forgettable year for No. 71. My, what a difference one year can make.