Who: Toronto Maple Leafs at Atlanta Thrashers
What: Game #11 of the 2012-13 Season
Where: The MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
When: 8pm EST. LEAFS-TV in Ontario. TSN-JETS in Winnipeg. Not being shown in Atlanta, GA.
Why: So we can be berated with talk about how great the fan atmosphere is at the MTS Centre.
Ah Winnipeg. I cannot think of a better North American city to visit during the month of February. I'd count off the many reasons why the 'peg is a great place, but the boys over at Battle of California already did that for us. A+ metropolis for sure. Unfortunately the members of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team will not be able to take in the sights, sounds, and smells that the great city of Winterpeg has to offer because they have a hockey game to play tonight against the Atlanta Thrashers.
Both teams find themselves in the middle of the Eastern Conference standings with .500 records; the Leafs 5-5-0 and the Jets 4-4-1. How either team is doing so "well" thought is beyond me. The Jets have the 3rd worst team sv% in the league with an abysmal .874% (better only than Calgary and St. Louis both at .869%), and the 2nd worst GA/G rate of 3.67. That's Leafs circa 2010 bad. And much like that Leafs team, they're 10th in goals for, averaging 3.00 a game. Yeah, I'm not sure how that is true either.
Should be a fun one, and by fun I mean like watching a bunch of monkeys try to fuck a football. It'll be gongshow hockey. I'm predicting a minimum of 3 fights; 7 goals; and 50 PIMs.
These answers come via Trevor Maughan from Arctic Ice Hockey which was formerly Behind The Net which is a friend of the blog. Please act accordingly.
1. Your special teams are at opposite ends of the spectrum with the power play a respectable 23.7% and your penalty kill a hilarious 62.1 % (keep in mind the Leafs have been historically bad on the PK so thanks for taking the heat). What's up with that?
The poor penalty kill has been mitigated by three separate issues. Firstly, Ondrej Pavelec isn't a very consistent goaltender (more on that later).
Secondly, the personnel they deploy hasn't been conducive to a productive PK. Wherever Chris Thorburn pops up, results rarely follow. Missing Zach Bogosian on the back-end is also a hindrance, as Grant Clitsome and Paul Postma have had to chip in on the kill -- an area they're not best suited for.
Lastly, the Jets are still trying to adapt to Perry Pearn's system, something which they've had troubles grasping so far.
2. How much do you love having Nik Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovsky on your team? Especially Antro though.
A lot of fans hate Antropov because of the tired rhetoric of being slow [Editor's Note: Also, because a lot of them are stupid and probably inbred.]. While he's not an elite player, he rarely loses board battles which is integral to Winnipeg's offensive concept. He'll never play at a 4MM clip again, but he's serviceable.
As for Ponikarovsky, he's a guy that flies under the radar but is a solid 200 foot player. Fans are just happy to have a legitimate third line as opposed to the horse shit that was G-S-T. At least I am.
3. What's the deal with your goaltending? Why is Pavelec letting the team down?
Pavelec is an outcast. Too crazy for boys school, too much of a boy for crazy school. One of those types of things.
After Tuesday's win, Brian Engbloom spoke to the effect that Pavelec is a snap-case, constantly bemoaning his low shot totals and afraid to make mistakes. The theory makes sense since teams rarely score three in a game on Pavelec, it's two or six.
He's an athletic freak, which explains why he's still actively employed in the NHL. But his confidence needs improvement as does his positional play.
Here are your lineups:
James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin
Matt Frattin - Nazem Kadri - Leo Komarov
Jay McClement, 1-2 useless plugs, and maybe David Steckel
Dion Phaneuf - Mike Kostka
John Michael Liles - Cody Franson
Korbinian Holzer - Mark Fraser/Mike Komisarek
(Carl Gunnarsson is skating and might play.)
Kane - Jokinen - Wheeler
Ladd - Burmistrov - Little
Ponikarovsky - Antropov - Wellwood (Seriously?)
Wright - Slater - Thorburn
Enstrom - Hainsey
Stuart - Redmond
Clitsome - Postma
via the Mirtle
Komisarek and Steckel are out tonight. Hometown guys Orr and McLaren in.