The Maple Leafs will look for their third straight win on Friday night, and Calvin Pickard is expected to make his debut since Curtis McElhinney is dealing with a lower body injury. Pickard has spent his entire 86-game NHL career with the Avalanche, and boasts a .919 save percentage in 15 games with the Toronto Marlies this year.
The Avalanche are struggling with a depleted blue-line, as Tyson Barrie remains out of the lineup due to a hand injury. We can expect Erik Johnson to matchup against Auston Matthews, but Colorado does not boast many strong options to go up against Mitch Marner’s line.
Toronto Maple Leafs at Colorado Avalanche
9:00PM - Pepsi Center
TV: Sportsnet Ontario, NHL Live
SBN: Mile High Hockey
Expected Lines (My best guess- this assumes Kadri does not play)
Zach Hyman- Auston Matthews- William Nylander
Leo Komarov- Patrick Marleau- Connor Brown
James van Riemsdyk- Tyler Bozak- Mitch Marner
Matt Martin- Dominic Moore- Josh Leivo
Morgan Rielly- Ron Hainsey
Jake Gardiner- Connor Carrick
Andreas Borgman- Roman Polak
Forwards: (As per Left Wing Lock)
Gabriel Landeskog- Nathan MacKinnon- Mikko Rantanen
Alexander Kerfoot- Tyson Jost- Nail Yakupov
Sven Andrighetto- JT Compher- Colin Wilson
Blake Comeau- Carl Soderberg- Matt Nieto
Nikita Zadorov- Erik Johnson
Patrik Nemeth- Mark Barberio
Samuel Girard- Anton Lindholm
The Avalanche are not good. They rank 30th in terms of expected goal percentage (xGF%), and 23rd in shot attempt differential (CF%). These numbers could also be slightly inflated, as the team no longer has Matt Duchene or Tyson Barrie in the lineup.
What Colorado does have going for them is a strong first line. Nathan MacKinnon is currently over a point per game pace, and both Landeskog and Rantanen are high-end power forwards. Nazem Kadri would normally match up against this line, so it will be interesting to see how the Leafs counter this line if their shutdown centre misses time due to injury.
Connor Carrick, Roman Polak, and Andreas Borgman all played poorly last night against the Coyotes, and it would not be surprising if Martin Marincin entered the lineup in place of Carrick. In any event, the Leafs should certainly be a clear favourite in this game, despite a potentially depleted lineup on the second half of a back-to-back.
Enjoy the game.
Nazem Kadri won’t play tonight in Denver, per Mike Babcock. Upper-body injury.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) December 29, 2017
Check the GDT for lines closer to game time.