Series (Game 2 of 4)

Series tied 2-2

Game 1: Thursday, November 18th
Maple Leafs3
Game 2: Sunday, December 26th
Maple Leafs4Final
Game 3: Thursday, February 10th
Maple Leafs1
Game 4: Wednesday, April 6th
Maple Leafs2Final

Maple Leafs 4

(13-17-4, 30 pts)

Devils 1

(9-24-2, 20 pts)

7:00 PM ET, December 26, 2010

Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey

1 2 3 T
TOR 1 2 14
NJ 0 0 11

K. Versteeg (Maple Leafs - RW): Goals: 0, Assists: 2

C. Armstrong (Maple Leafs - RW): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

J. Gustavsson (Maple Leafs - G): Saves: 29, Save Pct.: .967

Maple Leafs-Devils Preview


The New Jersey Devils' struggles have gotten so bad that general manager Lou Lamoriello made a coaching change.

Some of the Toronto Maple Leafs' fans wish their team would follow suit.

The Leafs and embattled coach Ron Wilson travel to New Jersey on Sunday night for a matchup that will enable one of the Eastern Conference's bottom-feeders to end its losing streak.

Coming off 13 consecutive postseason appearances, the Devils (9-23-2) have certainly been the NHL's biggest disappointment in 2010-11.

After slipping to the bottom of the league by losing eight of nine to begin December, Lamoriello fired rookie coach John MacLean on Thursday and replaced him with Jacques Lemaire, who came out of retirement for his third stint with the Devils.

New Jersey didn't respond immediately, losing 5-1 to the New York Islanders on Thursday night. The Devils have been outscored 20-4 during a four-game losing streak.

"It looked like they had lost their ability to play the game, which is very strange," Lemaire said. "I have never seen this in the past. Never."

Martin Brodeur stopped just nine of 14 shots against the Islanders, and having the future Hall of Famer in net hasn't prevented the Devils from ranking 26th with a 3.15 goals-against average.

They're hoping Lemaire can help. The team led the NHL with a 2.27 GAA under Lemaire last season, and won the 1995 Stanley Cup with him behind the bench.

"Jacques has the winning resume with him and he knows what has to be done to turn this around," Brodeur said. "This has to be a wake-up call for all of us."

Toronto (12-17-4) has been waiting for a turnaround since 2004, when it last reached the playoffs, but it didn't come during a 4-8-1 stretch between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The Leafs haven't played since losing their third straight Monday against Atlanta, a 6-3 home defeat that prompted fans to throw waffles on the ice and chant "Fire Wilson!"

"That's getting sickening," forward Clarke MacArthur said. "(The coaches) aren't the ones out there in the first five minutes not skating. I've said it before with the systems and that, they're as good as anybody's. It's about guys doing it."

The Thrashers led 2-0 just 2:52 into the game, and had a 5-1 advantage before the Leafs' unsuccessful comeback bid.

"We never quit," Wilson said. "We had an incredible number of scoring chances. Our problem was basically the first shift for every line and every pair of defense was a disaster."

Mikhail Grabovski has been a bright spot lately, scoring seven goals in his last eight games, including one in each of his last four.

The Devils would love that kind of production from anyone. Their 58 goals rank last in the league.

Ilya Kovalchuk has no points in his last two games and eight goals overall -- not enough to crack the NHL's top 100 -- after signing a 15-year, $100 million contract this summer. He's last in the league with a minus-25 rating.

With Jean-Sebastien Giguere still battling a groin injury, Toronto will likely start goalie Jonas Gustavsson, who has allowed 13 goals while losing his last three starts. Gustavsson, though, stopped 29 shots in a 3-1 home win over the Devils on Nov. 18.

Brodeur is 9-3-2 against Toronto since the start of 2006-07, but his 5-16-1 record this season is the NHL's worst among those with at least five starts.