Thursday Mashup: Game Day At Last

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 19: David Clarkson #71 of the Toronto Maple Leafs checks Matt Donovan #46 of the New York Islanders during NHL game action November 19, 2013 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

21 days off felt as long as it sounds, but the Maple Leafs‘ 2013-14 regular season will begin rounding its final corner tonight in New York.

From the sounds of it, the Maple Leafs, after all the time off, may end up with the same lineup they left off with, more or less, tonight against the Isles. That could include Nikolai Kulemin at center along with Mason Raymond and Troy Bodie on line three, the usual top line and Lupul – Kadri – Clarkson on L2. Dave Bolland doesn’t sound ready to go just yet, but Trevor Smith is available and may factor into the lineup. Carter Ashton’s status isn’t clear.

It’s going to be a frantic race to the finish with 22 games in 45 days. The Leafs will need at least 21 points out of those 22 to ensure a playoff berth in April. Two points against the Tavares-less Islanders seems like a good place to start.