MAPLE LEAFS (6-5-3) at PENGUINS (9-3-2)
7:00 pm (HNIC)
When I talk about defining games, this game tonight is another example.
The Leafs crushed some post game food and then hopped on an Air Canada charter to Pittsburgh, after an impressive win vs. the Philadelphia Flyers last night.
The 6-3 victory was not exactly a Picasso through roughly 30 minutes last night but if you do not crush their spirit, the Leafs have the ability to score in bunches.
Starting goalie, Fredrik Andersen stopped 30 of 33 in going the distance for the win. Would you start him again this evening against Sid the Not Quite A Kid and the Pens? Here is the logic on why I would. First, he is your starting goalie. It is time to make another statement in that regards. Secondly, he had two full days off after the loss to the Kings so he should not be gassed. Third, and final….it’s a game that is against one of the best in the league and defending Cup Champs. These are the games you WANT to play in.
**Having this epic rant, only means that Enroth will start this evening**
Leafs scored six goals last night against a team with a propensity for being scored on by the bushel. The Penguins aren’t great (16th) in Goals Against so they might be willing to play a ‘chance for chance’ style of game. If this is the case, we have a chance. If this is the case, we also have a chance to get run over in the process.
Fans wanted goal scoring to increase in Leafs land. They wanted talent to cheer for. Well we have it now, and it is time to quit complaining when we give up 3 goals in a game. I hate being scored on as much as anybody, but this isn’t PA Parenteau, Brad Boyes, and Michael Grabner. These kids can flat out play !
Back to my original point before being sidetracked by caffeine and ADHD.
Statement games come around every so often. Taking on the best teams in the game gives you an opportunity to judge where your own team is at. Where do I think the Leafs are after 14 games? Middle of the pack, and worthy of a playoffs spot.
The Leafs just beat an Eastern Conference foe. The had an emotional come from behind victory to do so. Couple that fact with the late flight into Pittsburgh and you are asking for heavy legs and cloudy thinking in the game this evening.
IF the Leafs can survive the early going, and get some quality stops from Andersen, they can pull off a “yuuuuge” (said like Trump) upset on the road this evening.
If the Pens get rolling….watch out.
Five Keys to the Game for the Leafs:
1) Big saves from Andersen.
2) Fresh faces must bring energy.
3) Matthews breaks out of point drought with a HUGE game.
4) Defense must recognize threats and make simple plays.
4b) Keep Sid, Geno, and Phil from smiling.
5) Leafs must not get cute in neutral zone. Keep passes short.
Excited to see how this one plays out tonight in Pittsburgh. I hate the Penguins but they know how to win, and make teams look foolish in doing so.
Go Leafs Go !!!
Projected Line Combinations
Toronto Maple Leafs
Hyman — Matthews — Nylander
van Riemsdyk — Bozak — Marner
Komarov — Kadri — Brown
Martin — Smith — Holland
Rielly — Polak
Marincin — Zaitsev
Gardiner — Carrick
Sheary — Crosby — Hornqvist
Kunitz — Malkin — Rust
Hagelin — Bonino — Kessel
Wilson — Cullen — Fehr
Dumoulin — Letang
Maatta — Daley
Cole — Schultz
Mike Babcock — Post- Game 11/12/2016