CAPITALS (52-18-8) at MAPLE LEAFS (39-24-15)
7:30 pm (TSN4)
After mucking around for a week trying to figure out magic numbers to clinch, it could come down to tonight. A Leaf win in regulation or overtime and Tampa Bay loss guarantees the Toronto Maple Leafs a playoff spot. Magic number? ONE.
Outside of that scenario things could become complicated.
Toronto has four games remaining. All four are at home. That is the plus. However, starting tonight the competition is pretty stiff. Washington will try to capitalize on their season long efforts when they take to the ice tonight at the ACC.
Of all the years that Washington has been a contender, this season’s roster is very very strong with virtually no weaknesses. They rank second in goals for, defensively they are the best in the league, their special teams are elite. This is the strongest team Washington has ever assembled.
Washington and Toronto are both 8-1-1 over their past 10 games with the Maple Leafs sitting on a four game win streak, the Capitals won their last game.
While the Leafs have shown flashes of defensive brilliance at times, the edge goes to Washington in this category. The Leafs will need all four forward lines and all three defensive pairings concentrating on playing
good excellent hockey away from the puck. They have proven they can stand up at the blue line and stifle entry into their own zone. Eliminating shooting lanes and never taking their eyes off Ovechkin on the left side will be keys to a win tonight.
Expect Nazem Kadri to line up against Ovi’s line. Kadri has has been very effective all season when tasked with shutting down the league elite players. Just ask Connor McDavid how effective he has been.
@YouStayClassy is one of the most passionate members of Leafs Nation. If you follow her on twitter you will understand. Here is what she had to say this afternoon when asked for a comment . . . .
“I think they’re going to have a pretty tough match tonight. But if there’s anything I learned from them (the Leafs) this season, it’s that they’ve shown that they are more than capable of hanging with the big dogs, especially after their last outing with the Caps. I’m expecting Naz to be his regular pain-in-the-ass self and I’m REALLY hoping that Austen gets his 40th. Oh, and I guess clinching a playoff spot would be nice too.”
The Leafs and Capitals have split the season series at one win each.
What do you think Leafs Nation? Will the Leafs clinch a playoff spot tonight?
As always, please discuss among yourselves.
Projected Line Combinations
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Hyman — Matthews — W. Nylander
Komarov — Kadri — Brown
van Riemsdyk — Bozak — Marner
Martin — Boyle — Kapanen
Rielly — Carrick
Gardiner — Zaitsev
Hunwick — Polak
Ovechkin — Backstrom — Oshie
Johansson — Kuznetsov — Williams
Connoly — Eller — Burakovsky
Winnik — Beagle — Wilson
Alzner — Carlson
Orlov — Niskanen
Orpik — Shattenkirk