It'll be a third consecutive start for Jonathan Bernier tonight when the Leafs take on the St. Louis Blues. Bernier was in goal for the first matchup of the season between these two teams — a 3-0 St. Louis win in St. Louis. Tim Erixon will be available for the Leafs. He was held out of Thursday's game with an illness.
Tonight's game will mark the second and final matchup between the two this season and first since last week's trade deadline. The Leafs and Blues made a trade on deadline day, swapping Olli Jokinen and Joakim Lindstrom with the Leafs picking up and a draft pick as well. Eric Brewer will also face a former team tonight — he played over 300 games in St. Louis over six seasons.
Tonight's game also features Carl Gunnarsson's return to Toronto after being traded for Roman Polak this past summer.
"It's going to be a hard game, they have a great team and they're just a blue collar team," said Polak. "They're going to the net, they're skating hard, they're forechecking hard and shooting pucks... It's going to be a tough match."
Jokinen will make his debut for the Blues tonight at Air Canada Centre less than a month after making his Leafs debut on the same ice surface.
"It was a quick stop here (in Toronto) and I really liked my time here," Jokinen said. "The focus is now on St. Louis and I am trying to fit in here. I am looking forward to my first game with the Blues. It’s pretty exciting."
Brian Elliott will get the nod in goal for St. Louis.
The Leafs are coming off of a 4-2 loss on Thursday night as they were beaten by the Tampa Bay Lightning. They are now 3-6-1 in their last 10.
Toronto is 18-13-0 at home this season.
The Blues are looking for their first win in the month of March and come to Toronto after a 3-1 loss in Philadelphia this past week. They are 5-4-1 in their last 10.
St. Louis is 18-11-3 on the road this season.
The Blues got the better of the Leafs who wrapped up a tough road swing with a 3-0 loss at Scottrade Center. Kevin Shattenkirk, Alex Steen and TJ Oshie had the goals for St. Louis while Brian Elliott stopped 27 shots to earn the win. Jonathan Bernier made 30 saves in a losing effort.
Tonight is the second and final meeting between the teams this year.
ONE TO WATCH
Schwartz is in the midst of another solid season for the Blues, anchoring the left wing position on a line that would be a top unit for a number of NHL teams alongside Jori Lehtera and Vladimir Tarasenko. Schwartz sits third on the team in scoring with 48 points — Tarasenko (62 points) and Alexander Steen (51) hold the top two positions.
With loads of offensive skill and good hockey sense, Schwartz is a very creative player equally adept at creating chances for teammates or finishing his own. He possesses good speed and is a willing forechecker which leads to many opportunities for his unit.
Schwartz ranks well amongst forwards in the area of puck possession and holds his own in all three zones, suppressing opponent shot attempts while generating the majority for the Blues while he is on the ice. While he isn't a heavy volume shooter, he does bury a fair amount of his opportunities with a career shooting percentage of 15.4.
Here are tonight's projected lineups for the Maple Leafs and Blues...
Toronto Maple Leafs
21 van Riemsdyk - 42 Bozak - 81 Kessel
47 Komarov - 43 Kadri - 18 Panik
19 Lupul - 24 Holland - 20 Booth
22 Sill - 23 Smith - 15 Lindstrom
51 Gardiner - 3 Phaneuf
44 Rielly - 46 Polak
2 Brewer - 12 Robidas
St. Louis Blues
20 Steen - 42 Backes - 74 Oshie
17 Schwartz - 12 Lehtera - 91 Tarasenko
23 Jaskin - 26 Stastny - 21 Berglund
9 Ott - 13 Jokinen - 75 Reaves
4 Gunnarsson - 27 Pietrangelo
48 Lindbohm - 19 Bouwmeester
5 Jackman - 41 Bortuzzo