Anaheim Ducks at Toronto Maple Leafs: Game number 31
Time: 7:30 pm Eastern Time
Broadcast/Streaming: SNO, PRIME
Opponent SBNation Site: Anaheim Calling
The Ducks are coming!
That doesn’t actually fill you with dread, does it?
It likely shouldn’t. the Ducks swim in the Pacific pond, which is a very small pond, indeed, where it is very easy to float to the top, dead or alive. The Ducks haven’t quite made it to the top, however; that spot is taken by the San Jose Sharks, but they are happily in second place, tied with the Oilers in points and with a +1 goal differential.
That is not quite as absurd as the situation in the Atlantic division where the Senators are in second place with at -3 differential, worse than the Leafs by ony three. But it shows the imbalance in the league right now. It must be fun playing in a division with two very bad teams, and the Ducks are enjoying themselves.
It also makes it hard to tell if the team has something this year or if they are just the default Pacific playoff team that won’t go far once they get there. You know, the non-coach related problem that got Bruce Boudreau fired and made the Minnesota Wild actually good?
We all expected certain things from the Ducks when Randy Carlyle took over as coach. So at about 30 games in, how is old Randy doing?
The Ducks are 11th in Corsi For percentage. Wow.
That’s 11th worst, of course. They finished last year fourth best. They have sunk to that level of bad play by being right in the middle of the league in Corsi Against, and ninth worst in Corsi For. They cannot drive play. Huh. Imagine that.
They are a little better at generating scoring chances, but the surprising thing is that their very good defensive corps, the envy of many a team, is not preventing scoring chances at anything better than a mediocre rate. If you have defenders that good, I can see why you might be tempted to play a very defensive oriented system, but they just don’t seem to be very good at it. Oddly enough, they were seventh best in the league last year at limiting shots. This is all such a strange turn of events. I can’t figure out what’s caused it.
Meanwhile, the Ducks offence is all coming from Rickard Rakell and Ryan Kesler. Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry have heaps of assists, but they aren’t scoring themselves.
The Leafs lines haven’t been changing, so we’ll just assume they stay in the usual home game configuration. The Ducks lines are from their most recent game.
Update: Make sure you read about the mixed up lines ahead of tonight’s game. The GOAT is in!
Gardiner is sick, Bozak has lower body injury, Smith has upper body injury. Both day to day. Gauthier, Leivo playing tonight.— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) December 19, 2016
Toronto Maple Leafs
Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - William Nylander
James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Mitch Marner
Leo Komarov - Nazem Kadri - Connor Brown
Matt Martin - Ben Smith - Nikita Soshnikov
Morgan Rielly - Nikita Zaitsev
Jake Gardiner - Connor Carrick
Matt Hunwick - Roman Polak
Antoine Bibeau and/or Jhonas Enroth
Rickard Rakell - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Andrew Cogliano - Ryan Kesler - Jakob Silfverberg
Nick Ritchie - Antoine Vermette - Ondrej Kase
Joseph Cramarossa - Stefan Noesen - Logan Shaw
Cam Fowler - Sami Vatanen
Hampus Lindholm - Josh Manson
Shea Theodore - Kevin Bieksa
In their last outing the Ducks got tuned up for six goals by the Detroit Red Wings, with Bernier giving up four and Gibson 2 out of 26 shots on goal. That was not a good game. They managed to score four, but when you are letting them in at that rate, you need to be able to crank up the offence better than that.
On the season, Gibson is sitting at .906 and Bernier at .901, but Gibson’s five-on-five percentage is .921. Bernier’s is not better.
It doesn’t matter whether the Ducks start Andersen’s old partner or the Leafs last backup, the Ducks are a two line team who want to play slow. They should be easy pickings for the Leafs, but nothing is ever sure in hockey. That’s why you play the games.
So, Go Leafs Go. Win this one for Andersen, he deserves it.