Back-to-back games against one line teams should have had the Leafs licking their chops at some easy points. However, with a loss to the Bruins now behind them, and the majority of Leafs Nation in a tizzy as a result of that potential 1st round playoff matchup leading to another early spring exit, they can go 1-1 at the very best before facing off against the odds on favourite to win the Stanley Cup, the Tampa Bay Lightning. Nobody thought this was going to be an easy week, but if they don’t take at least 1 game out of these three it will have many doubting this teams ability to play hockey at a high enough level to truly compete in the spring.
For what it’s worth I believe in this team, but also think they simply need to add to the group. When the time comes they need to simultaneously start firing on all cylinders. So far this year it’s really only been the Tavares/Marner line that has been consistently dangerous, and that isn’t good enough if you want to contend in the Atlantic Division.
As for tonights game, it will be a treat to watch the best line in hockey as long as they don’t win the game all by themselves. With a combined 185pts, they have the 3rd, 5th and 19th highest scoring players in the league. With size, speed, skill and drive, they bring it every night. Some of the Leafs could learn something from them tonight.
With a goalie that is coming off an 8 game absence, and a team whose confidence isn’t exactly in top form at the moment, this is a game the Avalanche will believe they can win. Expect them to come out firing, and expect them to want to make a statement game out of this game.
The biggest problem facing the Avalanche right now is their inability to keep the puck out of the net. With a whopping 15 goals against over their past three games, the Leafs are facing an opportunity to get some of their snake bitten forwards off the slide. While the offensive struggles of William Nylander are well documented, he’s not the only guy that needs to up his game around the opposition net. Nazem Kadri (0G, 3A, past 9 games), Kasperi Kapanen (0G, 2A, past 7 games), Connor Brown (1G, 2A, past 9 games), Morgan Rielly (0G, 2A, past 7 games), Patrick Marleau (0G, 0A, past 8 games), and Jake Gardiner (0G, 3A, past 10 games), have all been guilty of not pulling their weight as of late. If this trend continues they’ll have to hope that Frederik Andersen has returned to the lineup in top form.
#Leafs lines in warmups vs. Avalanche:
— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) January 14, 2019
My prediction: 4-3 Leafs, what’s yours?
GO LEAFS GO!!