FLYERS(5-5-0) @ MAPLE LEAFS(7-3-0)
If you had not watched a game this season, you might be surprised to hear the chatter surrounding the Leafs. They sport a 7-3 record and have scored 43 goals in their first 10 games. You would mostly expect to hear about a team seemingly taking a step forward over last year’s slow start.
The talk however is about an apparent lack of defense. The Leafs have outscored their opponents so far his season but it’s the way they’ve lost that has many questioning the team’s play. The buds have not struggled to light the lamp but 3 times, the Leafs have allowed 6 goals against so the concern cannot be dismissed.
A reasonable take away from the first 10 games is that this young team certainly has some work to do on their 200 foot game but it would be folly to ignore the overall result and their ability to produce offence at will. Just ask the Montreal Canadiens.
Truth be told, Mike Babcock is probably tickled pink to have clear evidence that this team has to be better after winning 70% of their first 10 games. Overconfidence is probably a major concern as the bench boss looks at his youthful team and he couldn’t ask for a more actionable script amongst a mostly good outcome. Much has been made of a shortened practice after a 6-3 loss to Carolina. Babcock was quoted as saying “Everyone know how to backcheck?” As his coaching staff collected pucks after only 20 minutes. Message sent.
Tonight’s matchup against the Flyers serves as an opportunity to demonstrate that the message was received. The Flyers have had no problem scoring goals in their first 10 games and will supply the Leafs with ample opportunity to show their coach that they can win the right way.
The Leafs will play without the services of James Van Riemsdyk who is out with a lower body injury. Josh Leivo is expected to fill in. Matt Martin, who is playing some of his best hockey as a Leaf is also out so Kasperi Kapanen will draw in to replace him.
The Flyers will be without Nolan Patrick, Andrew MacDonald and Colin McDonald.