TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (3-1-0) vs MONTREAL CANADIENS(1-3-0)
October 14th, 2017
At first glance, tonight’s match up between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens appears to be two teams moving in opposite directions.
Mind you, the season is still young and any data set to this point is small.
However, the numbers also do not lie.
Montreal sits 7th in the Atlantic Division with a 1-3 record. In their four games to date the Habs have amassed a total of 5 goals for and 13 goals against.
Montreal’s $14 million man (Galchenyk) has zero points and has been demoted to the fourth line, Carey Price’s save % is a mere 0.899 and all signs are pointing to a Montreal team mired in dysfuction once again.
Conversely, Toronto has started this hockey campaign soaring to a 3-1 record and sits 2nd in the division holding a game in hand on the leading Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Leafs hold a healthy edge in goals for in the east at 22. Good enough for 1st in the east and 2nd league wide.
So why are many odds makers giving Montreal the nod for tonight’s battle?
Team defense to put it simply. Toronto is giving up an average of four goals per game, ranking them a paltry 26th league wide.
The penalty killing unit has been slightly below average at 81%. In Toronto’s previous game vs the up and coming New Jersey Devils, the lack of defensive effort was apparent. So much so, that the Leafs gave up a short handed goal while holding a five on three power play.
The Bozak, van Riemsdyk, Marner line has been particularly bad. Take away their offence and the defensive liability they have become would be even more glaring.
Goaltender Frederic Andersen needs to be better. Soft goals happen to every goaltender. His allowing 20 and 30 foot softies must stop. He needs to outplay Carey Price tonight. Neither goalie has had a stellar start to the season but Price holds a solid edge in goals against over the Leafs netminder.
Andersen’s teammates must also do a better job of clearing the front of the net. Cue Nazem Kadri and company.
Suffice it to say, Toronto needs to defend their end of the ice more effectively and efficiently. It was demonstrated many times last season as Babcock preached “take care of your own end, then the offense will come.”
The season is still fresh. There is ample time to get things right and as mentioned already the sample size is small. However, there is no better time than the present to tighten things up.
It appears that coach Babcock will ice the same line up as Wednesday night.
What say you Leafs Nation? Will the Leafs turn it around and do a better job cleaning up their own end of the ice?
Discuss among yourselves.
Hyman — Matthews — Nylander
Marleau — Kadri — Komarov
JvR — Bozak — Marner
Martin — Fehr — Brown
Rielly — Hainsey
Gardiner — Zaitsev
Borgman — Carrick
Pacioretty — Drouin — Lehkonen
Hudon — Danault — Shaw
Byron — De La Rose — Gallagher
Galchenyuk — Mitchell — Hemsky
Mete — Weber
Alzner — Petry
Benn — Davidson