DUCKS (40-23-9) at MAPLE LEAFS (26-35-11)
At the end of October both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Anaheim Ducks had the same record at 1-7-2.
Since then, one team has re-gained their dominant form a year after a visit to the Western Conference Finals, while one remains at the bottom of the league. Surprisingly, that one team still continues to battle to the very end of every game.
The Ducks are right where they should’ve been at the end of the first month of this NHL season.
Currently sitting in second place with 89 points, the Ducks turned on the jets in January to be one of the premier contenders in the Pacific Division. After going 7-3-1, the Ducks dominated the month of February and the early part of March, going 15-1-1, vaulting them back to the top of the division and in a playoff spot.
The Ducks are looking to bounce back after dropping their last contest against the Montreal Canadiens. While they might have an easy opponent in the blue and white, the Leafs have been anything but an easy team as of late.
The Leafs are currently on a two-game winning streak and are 5-2 in their last seven games. It should be interesting to note that the Leafs did beat the Ducks back in January, 4-0.
Once again, the spotlight is on the rookies making an immediate impact with the big club, particularly William Nylander.
In his last two games, Nylander has two goals and three assists, three of those points coming off his best game of his stint over the Calgary Flames.
It was a difficult start for Nylander to transition into the NHL. There were times where the Leafs might have even sent him back. But recently, Nylander is showing that he’s capable of performing at the NHL level. He’s becoming more confident in his play, both offensively and defensively.
“The more games you play, the more confident you get,” Nylander said post-game. “I won’t say that I’ll keep on putting up this amount of points. Just want to keep working everyday and get better.”
Nylander and the Leafs will face a tougher test in the next few games after beating two opponents that are in the same situation as they are. Including tonight, four out of the Leafs next five games are against teams who are currently in a playoff position.
His opponents aren’t the only ones watching closely. Nylander has also gained attention from the Swedish National team for the World Hockey Championships. He went on to say that his focus right now is with the Leafs and their affiliate, the Toronto Marlies.
Tyler Bozak will look to return tonight after being sidelined since February 6th with a concussion.
Garret Sparks will get the nod in net for the Leafs while Fredrik Andersen is expected to be in net for the Ducks.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Milan Michalek – Nazem Kadri – Michael Grabner
Zach Hyman – William Nylander – PA Parenteau
Josh Leivo – Tyler Bozak – Connor Brown
Colin Greening – Brooks Laich – Ben Smith
Morgan Rielly – Martin Marincin
Jake Gardiner – Connor Carrick
Rinat Valiev – Frank Corrado
Brandon Pirri – Ryan Getzlaf – Corey Perry
Jamie McGinn – Rickard Rakell – Mike Santarelli
Andrew Cogliano – Ryan Kesler – Jakob Silfverberg
Nick Ritchie – Shawn Horcoff – Ryan Garbutt
Cam Fowler – Simon Despres
Hampus Lindholm – Josh Manson
Korbinian Holzer – Kevin Bieksa
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Gdiff (5v5) — -25
Gdiff (All) — -35
CF% (5v5) – 51.9
PP% – 14.2
PK% – 81.2
Gdiff (5v5) — -8
Gdiff (All) — +18
CF% (5v5) – 53.0
PP% – 23.2
PK% – 87.3