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Preview: The Kings face Garret Sparks as they try to rein in the Maple Leafs’ winning ways

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Can Los Angeles do what the Stanley Cup Champions couldn’t?

Toronto Maple Leafs v Los Angeles Kings Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Los Angeles Kings vs Toronto Maple Leafs: Game #7

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Location: Downtown Toronto in one of the bank buildings.

Broadcast/Streaming: Sportsnet Ontario and Fox Sports West

Opponent SBNation Site: Jewels from the Crown

This game gives Toronto fans their first chance to see Ilya Kovalchuk in a long, long time. He’s been busy scoring a lot in the KHL since he last played in the NHL. He had 63 points in 53 games last year, and so far in the NHL he has one goal and two assists in five games played.

The Kings have been renowned for years for a very high Corsi percentage and some really bad (relatively speaking) results. They suffered first from what we’ve come to think of as Carolina disease — lots of shots, not many good ones. Carolina seems to have gotten over the second part, and the Kings seem to have just given up on the first.

After five games, they sit at 24th in the NHL in Corsi with 45 per cent as the measure of their inability to win the shot battle. They’ve played the Sharks, the Red Wings, and then they came east to play the Jets, the Canadiens, the Senators, and now the Maple Leafs.

It’s okay, we understand how hard the Sens are to beat this year.

And there’s the trouble, after beating the Habs 3-0, they lost 5-1 to the Sens who were icing Dion Phaneuf’s retained salary as their highest-paid defender. The Kings didn’t lose the shot battle on this one, they won it by a huge margin, even when you account for score effects.

That is not shot quality. From either team, but the Kings just wailed from the points and hoped, I guess. They played okay against the Sharks, dominated the Habs, were terrible against the Jets, and repeated that with the Sens. Which team will the Leafs get?

Which goalie is another good question. Jonathan Quick is out injured and Jack Campbell and Peter Budaj are the goalies on this trip. They each played about half of the last game.

Maple Leafs

From morning skate

Forward Lines

Patrick Marleau - Auston Matthews - Kasperi Kapanen
Zach Hyman - John Tavares - Mitch Marner
Par Lindholm - Nazem Kadri - Connor Brown
Andreas Johnsson - Frederik Gauthier - Josh Leivo

Defence Pairings

Morgan Rielly - Ron Hainsey
Jake Gardiner - Nikita Zaitsev
Travis Dermott - Igor Ozhiganov

Goaltenders

Frederik Andersen
Garret Sparks - starter

Los Angeles Kings

Updated to the lines from morning skate

Forward Lines

Alex Iafallo - Anze Kopitar - Ilya Kovalchuk
Tanner Pearson - Adrian Kempe - Tyler Toffoli
Nate Thompson - Michael Amadio - Jeff Carter
Kyle Clifford - Jaret Anderson-Dolan - Trevor Lewis

Defence Pairings

Derek Forbort - Drew Doughty
Jake Muzzin - Alec Martinez
Dion Phaneuf - Oscar Fantenberg

Goaltenders

Jack Campbell
Peter Budaj


The Leafs are bringing the same lineup that succeeded against the Capitals, and so far, we shouldn’t be too sure those depth assignments will stick, particularly the Par Lindholm as winger experiment. He has some offensive talent, so maybe given a few more games, the Kadri line will start to gel in this format. I don’t actually believe that, I’m just resigned to Kadri playing with the least talented wingers on the team forevermore.

The only change for the Leafs is that Garret Sparks get his second start of the year, and his second chance to lay down a good game.

If we learn more, we’ll keep a secret from you.