RED WINGS at MAPLE LEAFS: Game 7
Time: 7:30 pm EDT
Location: Air Canada Centre
Broadcast: Sportsnet 360 & Sportsnet ONE
Opponent SBNation Site: Winging It In Motown
The Leafs boast a 5-1 record after shutout victory in Washington last night, and this team could lead the league in points with a victory tonight. Building a healthy lead over Boston and Montreal could go a long way next April. Jimmy Howard and the Detroit Red Wings are off to a 4-2 start, but the Maple Leafs swept the season series last year, including a 5-4 overtime win in the Centennial Classic.
Detroit certainly boasts the advantage in goal, as Howard owns a .942 save percentage through four games played, and impressed with a .927 save percentage in a 26 game sample last season. Curtis McElhinney is expected to get the start on the second half of a back-to-back, and the Leafs are at a bit of a disadvantage after travelling back from Washington last night.
Despite the hot start, Detroit’s roster is awfully similar to the team that finished 14th in the East last season despite a perfect 9-0 record in the shootout. There were no significant additions made over the offseason, as Trevor Daley was brought in to help fill in for the departure of Brendan Smith, while Thomas Vanek left for the Canucks. The 2016-2017 season series showed clear domination from the blue and white:
January 1st: 5-4 Win (OT) @BMO Field
January 25th: 4-0 Win @ DET
March 7th: 3-2 Win
April 1st: 5-4 Win @ DET
Key To The Game: Shut Down Henrik Zetterberg
Mike Babcock knows Zetterberg well, but his team could not defend the veteran centre last season. Zetterberg posted seven assists in the four game set, and Gustav Nyquist added 3 goals and 1 assist in the process. This duo is expected to play together tonight, and it will be interesting to see if Nazem Kadri gets this matchup as a result.
Auston Matthews (4 goals, 1 assist), James van Riemsdyk (3 goals, 1 assist), and Mitchell Marner (2 goals, 2 assists) were Toronto’s standout performers in the series last season. Feel free to re-live the Centennial Classic with these two clips:
Maple Leafs Projected Lines:
Zach Hyman- Auston Matthews- William Nylander
Patrick Marleau- Nazem Kadri- Leo Komarov
James van Riemsdyk- Tyler Bozak- Connor Brown
Matt Martin- Eric Fehr- Mitchell Marner
Jake Gardiner- Nikita Zaitsev
Morgan Rielly- Ron Hainsey
Andreas Borgman- Connor Carrick
Babcock says Borgman, Fehr and McElhinney getting in for #Leafs tonight vs. Red Wings— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) October 18, 2017
Borgman and Fehr likely replace Rosen and Moore respectively, which leaves Mitchell Marner on the fourth line once again. Patrick Marleau will play in his 1500th NHL game tonight, and Katya wrote all about this here.
Red Wings Projected Lines:
Anthony Mantha- Henrik Zetterberg- Gustav Nyquist
Tomas Tatar- Dylan Larkin- Justin Abdelkader
Martin Frk- Frans Nielsen- Darren Helm
Luke Glendening- Riley Sheahan- Luke Witkowski
Niklas Kronwall- Mike Green
Jonathan Ericsson- Trevor Daley
Xavier Oullet- Nick Jensen
Danny DeKeyser will miss tonight’s action with an ankle injury, which makes a weak defence corps even weaker. Detroit’s fourth line is also a major weakness, as Luke Witkowski has yet to score in 57 career NHL games, while Riley Sheahan and Luke Glendening combined for five goals last season. Naturally, this means that everyone on this line will score tonight against the Leafs.
Mike Green, Henrik Zetterberg, Anthony Mantha, and Dylan Larkin are all at or over the point per game mark thus far. These are the key players to watch for Detroit, and the Leafs will be in tough to keep their shutout streak going after an impressive defensive performance last night.