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The new coach blues: Toronto vs St. Louis game preview

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How have teams fared in their first game under a new coach? Well, I hope the Leafs are ready to play hard.

St Louis Blues v San Jose Sharks - Game Four
Let’s hope we see lots of sad goalies in white tonight
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Toronto Maple Leafs @ St. Louis Blues
9:00PM - Scottrade Centre
TV: TSN4 / Radio: TSN1050
SBN: St. Louis Game Time

What happens to a team when they fire their coach? Not long term but the very next game. Are the Maple Leafs in for an easy win, or are the odds stacked against them?

The Blues just fired head coach Ken Hitchcock, who Blues GM called “A hall of fame coach” — this brings up the interesting question no one asked at the press conference: If he’s a hall of famer, then why did you fire him? How high of a standard do you have for coaches?

Anyway, what everyone wants to know now is how the team will react in their first game. Well I fired up my Google and looked at the results of the first games that teams played after they fired their coach mid season.

Florida Panthers: Fired coach Gerard Gallant and two days later under new coach Tom Rowe the Panthers lost to the Blackhawks 2-1 in a shootout.

New York Islanders: Fired coach Jack Capuano and new coach Doug Weight coached the team to a 4-0 shutout against the Dallas Stars two days later.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Fired coach Mike Johnston, replacing him with Mike Sullivan and the Pengiuins lost their first game with him 4-1 to the Washington Capitals.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Fired Todd Richards and replaced him with John Tortorella. Jackets lost his first game 3-2 to the Minnesota Wild.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Fired Randy Carlyle (on the epiphany, because of course). The Leafs had assistant coach Peter Horachek take over behind the bench and they were blown out by Washington 6-2 in his first game. Then they beat Columbus and after that never won another game again — still haven’t, I think.

Winnipeg Jets*: Fired Claude Noel and hired current coach Paul Maurice. Went on to beat the one true Jets franchise 5-1 in his first game.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Fired Bond villain Guy Boucher because games like this are boring:

New coach Jon Cooper coached the team to a 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres.

Well, it looks like the Leafs have as good a shot at winning tonight’s game as normal. This very small sample size tells me this and no one shall question me. Teams can be thrown, but Mike Yeo has been on staff all season so the transition may be smoother than usual.

Possible Lines:

Toronto (from yesterday’s practice):

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

Martin Marincin - Nikita Zaitsev
Jake Gardiner - Connor Carrick
Matt Hunwick - Roman Polak

Frederik Andersen
Curtis McElhinney

St. Louis:

Alex Steen - Paul Stastny - David Perron
Jaden Schwartz - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko
Robby Fabbri - Patrik Berglund - Nail Yakupov
Scottie Upshall - Ivan Barbashev - Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo
Kevin Shattenkirk - Colton Parayko
Joel Edmundson - Carl Gunnarsson

Jake Allen
Carter Hutton

Preview Numbers

- Toronto St. Louis
- Toronto St. Louis
Record 23-16-9 24-21-5
Division 4th 4th
Conference 9th 9th
League 16th 20th
Goal Differential 148 / 139 = +7 141 / 157 = -16
Power Play 23.6% - 2nd 22.1% - 8th
Penalty Kill 84.9% - 3rd 82.8% - 12th
Most Goals Auston Matthews - 23 Vladimir Tarasenko - 22
Most Points Mitch Marner - 41 Vladimir Tarasenko - 49
Top Goalie Frederik Andersen - .919sv% Jake Allen - 0.895sv%

The Maple Leafs have a good shot at stopping their two-game slide tonight. The Blues are on the spreadsheets a worse team than the Leafs.

This will be happening more and more as the season goes on.

Go Leafs Go!