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Up next: Tomas Kaberle, Matt Stajan and the Toronto Maple Leafs

[SBN Toronto Maple Leafs blog - Pension Plan Puppets]

Record: 15-21-9 (14th in the east)

Top scorers: Tomas Kaberle (4g, 34a), Matt Stajan (12g, 21a), Alexei Ponikarovsky (15g, 14a)

Welcome to the first game of a five-game road trip.  Some would say taking this sordid losing streak on the road isn't the best of game plans, but I tend to think that if the Pens come out of this above .500 (perhaps 4-1?), then they will skate back onto Mellon ice next week with renewed vigor.  In other words, this road trip may be just the thing they need to get back on the right track.

Of course, the last time the Pens went on more than a three-game road trip (November 3 - 10), they finished 1-3.  Under normal, bitter circumstances, I'd feel like the chance of a repeat is prevalent.  But I'm feeling rarely optimistic this fine morning and really do think this team can get their act together, and it starts tonight in Toronto.

Now Toronto has, for some reason beyond comprehension, really busted Pittsburgh's jocks for a while now.  The season series is etched at one a piece, with the most recent game being a 4-3 Pittsburgh loss two days after Christmas.  (Thanks again Ian White.)

Last season, after taking the first game of the season series, the Penguins dropped three straight to the Leafs.  Again, it's just one of those things.

The Leafs are coming off a fresh 3-2 loss to the Sabres last night, making it their seventh over the last 10 (two of em were in OT).  Vesa Toskala was marked with the loss, bringing his season record to 6-9-2.  Whether we'll see him or Jonas Gustavsson remains up in the air as of right now.  I'll take a gamble and say TO will send in The Monster.

Puck and thread drop at 7:00. 

I may be a bit late to the party, as I will hopefully be cheering on my NY Jets who will hopefully smack the Bengals around in the AFC Wild Card.  Like I said, feeling optimistic today.  "Hopefully" is just about as optimistic as you can get when talking about the Jets.