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Maple Leafs host Defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins

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Pittsburgh Penguins
@ Toronto Maple Leafs

Broadcast: 7pm HNiC CBC, AM 640

SBN Opponent: PensBurgh

Saturday, Jan 9, 2010, 7:00 PM EST
Air Canada Centre

Complete Coverage >

The Toronto Maple Leafs will try to recover from a tough loss with a game against one of the best teams in the league. Somehow, as FrankD notes in his preview, the Leafs have a great record for a team of their stature against the Penguins since they became a juggernaut. They are 7-6-1 since the 2006-2007 season and 4-2-0 over the past two years. That record led to the Leafs playing an instrumental part in helping the Penguins to win the Stanley Cup.

1967ers took a look at the Toronto Maple Leafs' near-historically bad penalty killing this morning but they aren't the only abysmal special teams unit in this game. Somehow, a team with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin has conspired to produce the league's worst power play which is plugging away at a woeful 14.4%. They also have a great .800 winning percentage when they score first so it goes without saying that the Leafs need to avoid giving the Penguins any gifts to kick off the game.

I was screwing around on Shrpsports and found that the Leafs' all-time record on Saturdays at home is 943 wins, 518 losses, 223 ties, and 11 OT/SO losses. Much more relative is the fact that the they are 13-8-3 since the start of last season. Whether that's because the players recognise that it's a big night or the fans remember that they are allowed to make some noise the team does better when it's on Hockey Night in Canada.

Tonight's starters: 

2009 - Jonas Gustavsson 24 1270 8 8 62 2.93 643 581 .904 1
2009 - Marc-Andre Fleury 37 2115 22 13 94 2.67 966 872 .903 0

Marc-Andre Fleury will likely get the start in what must be a pretty welcome sight for Jake Allen. Jonas Gustavsson at times last start looked like h ewas stunned at how bad the Leafs' were playing defensively. Steve looked at the difference between the penalty kill in front of Jonas Gustavsson and the one that works in front of Vesa Toskala. Part of it is clearly that Gustavsson is a much better goalie but at this point I think it's also a case of the rest of the team playing with more confidence and therefore more aggressively.

The effort last night was much better at even strength. It is important that the Leafs not only start with the same effort but that they do not fall behind 2-0 for the 24th time this season. Puck drops at 7pm, game thread at 630pm, and don't forget to make your SPG picks.