Leafs fans will be treated to the return of veteran Patrick Marleau to the Scotia Bank Arena this evening.
He played the role of mentor and father to the young guys in the room for two seasons in Toronto, and I really can’t think of a better role model than him. When asked how it felt to be pushed out for the re-signing of Mitch Marner he had this to say:
Patrick Marleau on being waived by the #Leafs to make room for Marner's contract: "No better person to do it for. That makes it easy. Those guys are great players and deserve everything they get."
— Michael Traikos (@Michael_Traikos) October 22, 2019
That’s all class if you ask me.
Marleau is off to a great start to the season (2 goals, 6 points in 6 games), which will be his 22nd in the NHL. He also hasn’t missed a game since the 2009/10 season:
Regarding Patrick Marleau's current iron man streak, I asked the NHL about it since he missed the start of the season. The NHL's response:
“It would only stop once he has signed an NHL contract and then does not appear in his team’s next following game.''
So the streak lives on. https://t.co/up3W2BPAnj
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) October 9, 2019
I hope the crowd gives him a massive standing O. I realize he only played 2 of his 22 NHL seasons in Toronto, but his effect on the team went far beyond his contributions on the ice. It’s easy to see that when you hear the kids speak about him:
Two of Patrick Marleau's sons spoke at practice today about his return to Toronto tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/i8NviMpdQx
— Yahoo Sports Canada (@YahooCASports) October 24, 2019
On to the game:
PP%: 25.7% (8th in NHL)
PK%: 91.4% (1st in NHL)
GF/GP: 2.80 (20th in NHL)
GA/GP: 3.40 (25th in NHL)
S/GP: 28.7 (26th in NHL)
SA/GP: 32.4 (T-21st with 2 teams in NHL)
PP%: 25% (10th in NHL)
PK%: 78.9% (20th in NHL)
GF/GP: 3.64 (4th in NHL)
GA/GP: 3.45 (26th in NHL)
S/GP: 33.4 (7th in NHL)
SA/GP: 33.7 (26th in NHL)
The game plan should be pretty simple for head coach Pete Deboer. San Jose will be happy to make this a special teams event. They’ll try to draw as many penalties as possible, which shouldn’t be a huge problem considering the Leafs are 7th in the league as far as the number of times being down a man is concerned, because their power play is doing really well at the moment. For a Leafs team full of feather pillow softness, and one that has questionable penalty killers, it should be a major concern to see them on the penalty kill this often.
Meanwhile the Sharks won’t be afraid to lay the body because their penalty kill is the best in the NHL in the early stages of this season (also they’ve been shorthanded just 3 fewer times than the Leafs). While the Leafs power play is (apparently) potent, the idea will be to wear them down physically, frustrate them, and have them take penalties through pushing back. If the Sharks take a few in the meantime then you deal with that in game.
As for the Leafs they only ever have one game plan.
The Sharks aren’t the quickest team out there and the Leafs need to exploit that. They have good veterans and a lot of players with great reach, but if the Leafs can keep their feet moving it will be the Sharks that end up on the penalty kill all game long.
If they do end up taking penalties the message needs to go out that being cute while down a man isn’t cute. Get the puck 200 feet away from your net as often as possible, no exceptions. I’ve been seeing too many instances of penalties killers (looking at you Mitch) trying to make a play to create a scoring chance, instead of doing the simple/smart thing, that is icing the disc.
If the Buds can keep the game at 5v5 as much as possible they should do fine. Their 25 goals at even strength outpaces the Sharks’ 17, and while their 28 goals against at evens is tied for worst in the NHL, the Sharks’ 26 is tied for 3rd, so it’s really a wash in that sense.
#Leafs lines at practice:
Morgan Rielly is absent.
— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) October 24, 2019
Morgan Rielly is expected to play tonight, he should be in his usual spot alongside Ceci, while Dermott isn’t expected to be back.
Travis Dermott and Zach Hyman are very close to a return as well, it could come as early as tomorrow nights game against Montreal.
Frederik Andersen starts for the Leafs, while Martin Jones starts for the Sharks.
GO LEAFS GO!!!