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Game Preview: San Jose Sharks at Toronto Maple Leafs

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After being shutout by the Lightning, the Leafs are looking for their first win in three games.

Toronto Maple Leafs v San Jose Sharks Photo by Don Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

San Jose Sharks vs Toronto Maple Leafs: Game #42

Time: 7:00PM EST / 4:00PM PST

Location: Air Canada Centre, Toronto

Broadcast/Streaming: Sportsnet Ontario, NBC Sports California, Sportsnet Now, NHL Live

Opponent SBNation Site: Fear the Fin

The Toronto Maple Leafs are coming off a 2-0 shutout to the Tampa Bay Lightning, and are riding a three game losing streak, having not won since a 7-4 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on December 28th. It’s not a long time or a long streak, but it’s long enough for me.

The Sharks have won four of their past five - beating the Canadiens, Flames, Canucks, and Kings - but the loss was a big 6-0 shutout by the Dallas Stars.

The last time these two teams met it was a 3-2 victory for the Sharks on home ice. The Sharks played the Leafs hard and kept them to under 20 shots for the entire game. The one positive for Toronto in the game was Andreas Borgman’s first NHL goal:

Hopefully we get something just as awesome as that tonight, but with a Leafs win.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Forward Lines

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

Defence Pairings

Morgan Rielly - Ron Hainsey
Jake Gardiner - Connor Carrick
Andreas Borgman - Roman Polak

Goaltenders

Frederik Andersen
Curtis McElhinney

If the line up does indeed stay similar to what we saw vs Tampa, hopefully we see the same play we saw there. It was a shutout but the team played well. Gauthier looks to be getting an extended try out with the team, he’s a restricted free agent this summer coming off his entry level contract so I suppose it’s decision making time on him. Can the fourth line centre on the Marlies translate to the fourth line centre on the Leafs, or is it time to give scouts a better look at him?

With Nikita Zaitsev still on IR, Connor Carrick is getting more ice time taking Zaitsev’s place with Jake Gardiner, and McElhinney’s injury wasn’t too bad since he’s back in his usual spot on the Leafs bench.

Josh Leivo is, as he always will be, in the pressbox.

San Jose Sharks

Forward Lines

Timo Meier - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Tomas Hertl - Logan Couture - Joonas Donskoi
Mikkel Boedker - Chris Tierney - Kevin Labanc
Marcus Sorensen - Joel Ward - Melker Karlsson

Defence Pairings

Brenden Dillon - Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun
Dylan Demelo - Joakim Ryan

Goaltenders

Martin Jones
Aaron Dell

Joe Thornton is still the Sharks leading scorer after all these years, and doesn’t seem to be missing Marleau much. Brent ‘supermega contract’ Burns is way off on his projected scoring as compared to other seasons, but oh hey you give 32 year old an 8 year $64 million deal it’s going to turn sour eventually. Or it’s a blip, whatever, as long as it’s bad for someone other than the Leafs.

Numbers Preview

Maple Leafs Team Devils
Maple Leafs Team Devils
265GF - 226GA - +29 Goal Differential 238GF - 234GA - +4
24.4% - 2nd overall Power Play 21.7 - 10th overall
81.3% - 12th overall Penalty Kill 81.9% - 7th overall
James van Riemsdyk - 36 Most Goals Taylor Hall - 39
Mitch Marner - 47 Most Assists Taylor Hall - 54
Mitch Marner - 69 Most Points Taylor Hall - 93
Matt Martin - 50 Most PM Miles Wood - 84
Jake Gardiner - 22:33/G TOI Leader Sami Vatanen - 22:42
Frederik Andersen - .917sv% Starting Goalie Keith Kincaid - .911sv%

Both teams have top power plays and both are top 10 in penalty kill so lots of 5v5 time tonight preferably, not that on paper it would make a difference.

The San Jose Sharks have just two fewer wins than the Maple Leafs, sit three places being the Leafs overall in the NHL standings, and have just barely scored 100 NHL goals. Offensively they aren’t a huge match but have allowed 27 fewer goals overall than the Leafs.

Summarizing things simply, it’s an almost even match up tonight and we should see a close, entertaining game.

Go Leafs Go!