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United States • 35 Years Old • Male
December 9

Before the Kings and Maple Leafs meet at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Los Angeles will first face off against a strong Montreal Canadiens team at the Bell Centre Tuesday evening.

I can hardly remember the last time the Kings won at the Bell Centre or even Centre Molson. In fact, the Canadiens have won 12 of the last 13 meetings in Montreal since the 1993 Stanley Cup Finals, so needless to say Tuesday night will be a tough game for the Kings especially with the Habs playing so well at the moment.

It is still up in the air as who will start in goal for Los Angeles both nights, but I would suspect that Martin Jones will get the call in Montreal after shutting out the New York Islanders on Saturday night at Staples.

Similar to last season, Darryl Sutter must play Jones as much as possible until Jonathan Quick returns to his crease. Ben Scrivens has been exceptional in the absence of Quick and should serve as backup to Quick for the time being with this current team the way it is, but Jones could prove to be a very valuable trade chip in order for the Kings to make another splash en route to another Cup run. So, a message should go out to all those clubs who missed out on Jonathan Bernier (Calgary, NY Islanders, Edmonton, or Florida) will have another chance to make an offer to land the next upcoming (former) young King goaltender.

On the other side of the wall, the Toronto Maple Leafs will most likely be without captain Dion Phaneuf who will be having a hearing on Tuesday with Brendan Shanahan to discuss the late dangerous boarding play to the turned back of Boston Bruins rookie Kevan Miller. I must say, that with the officials not assessing that as a penalty, is criminal. Then again, most of the officiating in recent seasons has been nothing short of criminal. Although Miller does not seem to be injured as a result of the hit, Phaneuf will probably get at least a couple games. This is also unfortunate because if you go back to the game in Boston on November 9th, Jarome Iginla nailed Mark Fraser head first into the boards from behind and later in the same game, David Clarkson was lined up and drilled elbow to the head into the boards by Dennis Seidenberg. Neither dangerous play was whistled down nor did they garner any attention from the NHL or the disciplinary office. Now, Phaneuf is subject to a suspension for one dangerous play while Boston got away with several dangerous hits that night in November, including several more high checks to the head and upper body which were also not called.

Moreover, I have had enough of all of the guessing and making up rules as the go along. Lord knows that Brendan Shanahan is trying is best and has been somewhat fair since taking over the job. However, the on ice in game officiating has been nothing short of awful and those involved should definitely be reprimanded or even docked pay for all of the poor judgment. Last night's Toronto-Boston game was one of the worst officiated game against both teams that I have seen in a long time and that is clearly unacceptable.

With the inevitable absence of Phaneuf, the Leafs should then go back to Morgan Rielly, who needs to play every night. Pairing Rielly with John-Michael Liles or Cody Franson makes most sense for the youngster against a tough, fore checking team.

This lead to some of the keys of the game against the Kings. For Los Angeles to be successful, if they are able to play their dump and chase style and get the cycle going in the Toronto zone, the Leafs are going to be in some trouble. Toronto is going to have to get a solid defensive effort from all of the forwards to help mend off the Los Angeles puck possession game. The Kings strength is a weakness for the Maple Leafs, who still continue to play soft in its own end. Although the Kings have so much trouble scoring goals, they will still end up with plenty of shots on target.

However, the Kings weakness is also Toronto's strength and that is matching up with a lot of speed up front and some explosive offensive skill. If Phil Kessel, Mason Raymond and perhaps the addition of Joffrey Lupul to the lineup can free up some space against a team that does so well at controlling play in all areas of the ice, then the Kings could end up having a bit of a hard time slowing the Leafs down. Yet again, Los Angeles is similar to Boston in that if the team is not controlling play, they will still find a way to make things go in their favor and if Toronto does not help the situation by staying out of the box and continues to cough the puck up in its own zone, then the Kings should be able to come out on top Wednesday night.

Although it would be interesting to see Jonathan Bernier battle his former teammates and prove Dean Lombardi wrong, I still think James Reimer should be the one in goal Wednesday night and therefore save Bernier for St. Louis Thursday night.

My predictions:
Kings 2, Canadiens 2 (Shootout?)
Kings 3, Maple Leafs 1
Filed Under:   Martin Jones   Dion Phaneuf   Maple Leafs   Kings  
December 10, 2013 12:53 PM ET | Delete
With the Kings, and their playing style, I think honestly they will come out strong against Montreal and likely struggle as the back to back games and jetlag sets in, and with Torontos speed up front if they can get offence it could be dangerous to a tired Kings team that is more defensive minded.I think though I would disagree on trading Jones. If anything I think the Kings have to realize Quick needs nights off and having a reliable and relatively cheap young goalie to run in and have a solid tandem is important. For this year sure Scrivens is the guy, a little more experience, and fact is Leafs are paying his salary. He is showing so well though that the Kings can trade him over their young rising goalie and get a good return for the playoffs and continue building for the future there.For the Leafs no surprise on Dion being suspended. I figured one or two games was coming. Incompetent reffing aside, which has been the case for a few years now, that was just a stupid thing for Dion to have done. Guy didnt turn as he came in the guy was all along facing the boards and putting your shoulder into the guys numbers at the boards like that is just well, stupid!Nonis gets a chance to see his d corp now without Dion and has to really look at making some changes. At this point I would not expect a deal till after the xmas break as Nonis learned from Burke and Burkie had that self imposed no trade that kicks in about now. I think Riley with Liles makes the most sense, pairing the young kid with a veteran. Franson has been horrible and putting the kid out with the liability Franson is this season would not help at all!This stretch is going to be a long one for the Leafs and honestly how they compete and weather the storm is going to be telling. At this point I do not see help coming via a trade, so it means it is time for guys to step it up and show they can get the job done. For guys like Gardiner and Franson and Liles its show up time or they could be casualties of a shakeup as Nonis WILL in the end make moves to try and keep this team in the playoff hunt.
December 10, 2013 12:56 PM ET | Delete
As an afterthought I think starting Scrivens against a Leafs team that knows his tendancies better could be a huge mistake. Scrivens against Montreal makes sense more, then use Jones, the unknown quantity against the Leafs. Just look at the fact that anytime the Leafs face an unknown goalie they usually wind up getting killed by said goalie. Scrivens likely would be a better match up against Price even if Jones posted a shutout.
December 12, 2013 11:22 AM ET | Delete
Well one out of two wasnt bad. Jones started and was stellar, and while the Kings were definitly tired and somewhat outplayed they came up big capitalizing on a few mistakes made by the Leafs to grind out an actual win!Likely the best game the Leafs have played to date though and a good sign they are capable of playing with the better teams in the league.
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