MAPLE LEAFS (11-13-7) at AVALANCHE (17-16-1)
It’s a good thing too, not just for the long term future of both his stay and the Leafs in general, but for also the short term as the team sets to take on the scorching hot Colorado Avalanche.
How good are the Avalanche right now, you ask? After coming off a dominating 5-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers this past Saturday, they have extended their recent win streak to five games and brought up their last 10 games record to 8-2-0.
Let’s just say that they have had a good month of December and that this isn’t the same team the Leafs creamed 5-1 at the Air Canada Centre over a month ago.
In that game, the Leafs special teams were the difference maker with four power play goals and one shorthanded. If the Leafs will maintain success against hot team, they’ll need to come to the rink ready to play a defensive minded game.
Against the Kings, a big reason Bernier was able to get his shutout was the work of the Leafs defense that were able to close the gap on the big forwards in L.A. and give them little opportunity to score. When the Kings were given opportunities, Bernier made some key saves that he made look easy.
Basically, if the Leafs are going to beat the Avalanche, they need to be strong defensively and have another strong performance from Bernier, the expected starter for tonight.
Offense has not been an area of concern of late, as the team has scored a combined 13 goals in the last three games. What has been a problem of late has been goals-against and holding leads (besides Saturday night, of course) as the Leafs showed iffy performances against the Lightning and Sharks. They were leading both games in convincing fashion but allowed the opposition to crawl back and eventually lost both in overtime.
While it is nice that the Leafs are currently on a five game point streak, they still need work on not curling up into a ball and allowing the opposition with glorious chances in the late stages of the game. If Saturday’s win is any indication, the Leafs appear to be heading in the right direction. Let’s hope they can maintain that heading into the Christmas break.
Both Leo Komarov and Michael Grabner (who was recently promoted to the top line with Nazem Kadri) both had career nights with three and points respectively. I expect that line continue to look dangerous on the fore-check for offensive production. The second line of Bozak, Van Riemsdyk and Parenteau was quiet so expect a better overall performace from them.
As long as the defense and goaltenders show up and the offense continues its hot streak of late, I think the Leafs will have a good game against the Avalanche. If they’re lucky and have a huge lead, the game tomorrow against the Arizona Coyotes will host a better start than if the game remains tight.
Side note: Babcock mentioned that the Leafs would be bringing up a forward (my guess is Richard Clune) as they head out for a three game road trip, following injuries to both Nick Spaling and Garret Sparks against the Sharks.
Congrats to Byron Froese on finally getting his first NHL goal! Happy holidays everyone!
And of course: Go Leafs Go!
Toronto Maple Leafs
Grabner – Kadri – Komarov
Van Riemsdyk – Bozak – Parenteau
Winnik – Holland – Lupul
Matthias – Froese – Boyes
Gardiner – Phaneuf
Hunwick – Rielly
Marincin – Polak
Landeskog – Mackinnon – Duchene
Martinsen – Soderberg – Comeau
Tanguay – Mitchell – Iginla
McLeod – Grigorenko – Skille
Beauchemin – Johnson
Holden – Barrie
Guenin – Redmond
HUNTER ON WJC LEAFS PROPECTS