Time: 2:00PM ET
Location: Scotiabank Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: SNO, FS-N, FS-WI, NHL.TV
Opponent SBNation Site: Hockey Wilderness
There were a number of positives to take away from 2018. We found out Travis Dermott was a player, Mitch Marner took his witchcraft and wizardry to a whole new level, and John Tavares came home. But It’s a new year now for the Leafs and they’re kicking it off with a new goaltending tandem.
Frederik Andersen has missed the last two games with a groin injury. Andersen skated yesterday morning along with fellow injured teammate Zach Hyman, but he still isn’t available to play. That was brought to a new level this morning when the Leafs placed the starting goaltender on injured reserve while recent acquisition Michael Hutchinson and Kasimir Kaskisuo were recalled on emergency basis.
Garret Sparks, who was thought to be today’s starter, is being held out of the game for precautionary reasons after taking a puck off the mask at practice.
Who knows how long it’ll be, but for now, the Leafs will have to rely on Hutchinson and Kaskisuo in net.
There isn’t a complete need to panic though. Hutchinson was thought to be a future starter in Winnipeg and has played four games in the NHL this season. His numbers don’t instil much confidence but who knows what a new team with high aspirations can do.
The goal of this game should be just that: goals. The Leafs are coming off a disappointing 4-0 loss to the New York Islanders. Mike Babcock made some small adjustments with the lines to hopefully get the team back to their scoring ways, one of which has the Matthews and Nylander connection reunited with a pinch of Johnsson.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Connor Brown - John Tavares - Mitch Marner
Andreas Johnsson - Auston Matthews - William Nylander
Patrick Marleau - Nazem Kadri - Kasperi Kapanen
Par Lindholm - Frederik Gauthier - Trevor Moore
Morgan Rielly - Ron Hainsey
Jake Gardiner - Nikita Zaitsev
Travis Dermott - Igor Ozhiganov
The Minnesota Wild ended their year on a low as well, losing six of their final seven games including a 5-2 loss to the poor performing Chicago Blackhawks. Goal scoring has been an issue there as the Wild haven’t scored more than two goals since their 3-2 win over Vancouver on December 4th.
Jason Zucker - Eric Staal - Mikael Granlund
Zach Parise - Charlie Coyle - Luke Kunin
Jordan Greenway - Mikko Koivu - Nino Niederriter
Marcus Foligno - Eric Fehr - Matt Hendricks
Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin - Greg Pateryn
Matt Bartkowski - Nate Prosser
Leafs vs Wild
|144 GF - 109 GA - + 35||Goal Differential||110 GF - 108 GA - +2|
|23.8% - 8th||Power Play||23.2% - 10th|
|79.6% - 16th||Penalty Kill||83.9% - 3rd|
|John Tavares - 26||Most Goals||Zach Parise - 17|
|Mitch Marner - 40||Most Assists||Mikael Granlund - 26|
|Mitch Marner - 53||Most Points||Mikael Granlund - 37|
|Hyman - 42||Most PIM||Miles Wood - 33|
|Morgan Rielly - 22:24||TOI Leader||Ryan Suter - 26:15|
|Michaek Hutchinson - .839 Sv%||Starting Goaltender||Devan Dubnyk - .912 Sv%|
If the Leafs want to trigger their offence again, it’ll have to come at 5v5. Minnesota’s penalty kill is top five in the NHL and we’ve seen teams able to shut down that number one unit.
That said, the first goal for the Leafs when they took on the Wild the first time was on the powerplay via Matthews. And the next generation game last year was electric to say the least (8-1 victory and a four-point game for Marner) so the hockey gods could be on their side to get all the bounces this afternoon.
The injuries in net are unfortunate, but not season-enders. Hutchinson isn’t a random name they found from a local bank branch. He’s played in the NHL and needs a new step with the right team in front of him. Perhaps the Leafs are it.