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Game Preview: Toronto Maple Leafs at Washington Capitals

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So many hockey dads, so little time to yell at the kids.

Washington Capitals v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

HUSTLE! HUSTLE! HUSTLE! GET YOUR ASS BACK AND DEFEND! WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH YOU! WHAT KIND OF CALL IS THAT, HE GRAZED HIM! [Throws whiskey bottle at referee]

Yes folks, it’s the annual Dad’s trip for the Maple Leafs, and I’m sure it brings back a lot of memories for the Leafs. This year, instead of heading to sunny Florida, or California, or Arizona to get some golfing in, they boys are headed to slushy, grey Washington DC. Though it isn’t warm or sunny or filled with mini golf and buffets, I hope they make a trip to the Smithsonian, because it’s chock full of dad joke opportunities.

“Hey Morgan, why is the lunar module like the Capitals at Christmas?”
“.....sigh. Why dad?”
“Because it’s a space Caps-Yule!”
“.....I”m going over here now”

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS AT WASHINGTON CAPITALS

7:00PM - VERIZON CENTRE

TV: TSN4 / RADIO: TSN1050

SBN: JAPER’S RINK

The Toronto Maple Leafs are doing well for themselves as we cross into 2017. Their young kids are 1st (Matthews - 34pts), 3rd (Marner - 27pts), and 4th (Nylander - 25pts) in rookie scoring, they blew a lead but WON the game in overtime (Centennial Classic, 5-4 over Detroit), Frederik Andersen is at .924SV% and playing like the goalie expected when they made the trade, and they are coming to town on a five game win streak.

The Maple Leafs are moving in the right direction, it’s still a learning year, a transition year, but it’s been a fun ride so far. After playing non-threatening teams like the Red Wings, Panthers, Lightning, Coyotes, and Avalanche coming into this game, they should be warmed up and confident, and be able to hold their own against the Capitals.

Washington isn’t as dominant this year as they used to be, but they are still a strong team to play against and more of a challenge that this team needs right now, win or lose. Their past 5 haven’t been nearly as good as the Leafs, squeaking by the Sens 2-1, blowing out the Devils, but also losing to them, losing to the Islanders, and shutting out the Bolts. The Capitals will be looking at a young team and hoping to get a groove back, but at this point no one is taking Matthews, Marner, Nylander or the vets for granted.

Preview the Numbers

Toronto Washington
Toronto Washington
17-12-7 22-9-5
5th 4th
10th 5th
17th 7th
108 / 103 = +5 99 / 78 = +21
19.6% - 12th 16.7% - 18th
85.2% - 6th 87.3% - 3rd
Auston Matthews - 20 Alex Ovechkin - 17
Auston Matthews - 32 Nicklas Backstrom - 30
Frederik Andersen - .924sv% Brayden Holtby - .929sv%

Lines

Toronto
Leo Komarov - Nazem Kadri - William Nylander
Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - Connor Brown
James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Mitchell Marner
Matt Martin - Frederik Gauthier - Nikita Soshnikov

Morgan Rielly - Nikita Zaitsev
Jake Gardiner - Connor Carrick
Matt Hunwick - Roman Polak

Frederik Andersen
Antoine Bibeau

Washington
Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson - Nicklas Backstrom - Justin Williams
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Daniel Winnik - Jay Beagle - Tom Wilson

Karl Alzner - John Carlson
Dmitri Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Nate Schmidt

Brayden Holtby
Philipp Grubauer

It should be a great game tonight. There’s great players on both sides, and, hey, it’s a Leafs game in 2017, when have those been bad?