Toronto Maple Leafs vs Los Angeles Kings: 7:30PM
Watch on: TSN4, Fox Sports West, NHL Live, TSN Direct
Opponent’s site: Jewels from the Crown
The Toronto Maple Leafs are on paper one of the better teams in the National Hockey League - as long as that paper is the roster and not the standings.
In reality, the Leafs are barely a playoff team (2nd Wild Card spot, 1 point ahead of 1st out) who struggle to outscore their opponents (+1 goal differential). October was not kind to this team. HOWEVER! That is in the past. It’s now November, and the Maple Leafs are undefeated.
Players are returning from injury - Travis Dermott made his season debut against the Flyers on Saturday night, Jake Muzzin will play again tonight, and so should John Tavares - the opposition is coming into town to stir up the guys, and tonight’s game should be like putting in a ball on the lip of the cup.
The Maple Leafs’ opponent, the Los Angeles Kings, are less golfer Happy Gilmore, and more hockey player Happy Gilmore. They are 5-9-0, have scored 19 less goals than they’ve allowed, and are mired in a swamp of bad contracts signed just after they won a Stanley Cup or two, and are now unable to do more than ice a team of past their prime players. Let’s look at their goaltending for example. This is how the Kings view it:
To clarify, that's 10 years after next year -- so 11 years in total of our goaltender being better than yours.— LA Kings (@LAKings) June 28, 2012
This is the reality:
The Kings top scorer Anze Kopitar is their brightest light with 13 points (4G, 9A), but on the Leafs he would be the fourth best scorer, behind noted offensive star Morgan Rielly (14 points), and just barely ahead of fellow all-star Ilya Mikheyev (11 points).
Tonight is also the Kings’ first game of their road trip, so they’re travel weary, jet lagged, and still trying to live on west coast time. This is a team primed to lose, and there are no excuses tonight.
Maple Leafs Lines
From yesterday’s practice:
Trevor Moore - John Tavares - Mitch Marner
Andreas Johnsson - Auston Matthews - William Nylander
Ilya Mikheyev- Alexander Kerfoot - Kasperi Kapanen
Dmytro Timashov* - Nick Shore - Frederik Gauthier
Morgan Rielly - Cody Ceci
Jake Muzzin - Tyson Barrie
Travis Dermott - Justin Holl
*With late breaking news that Nic Petan is back on the roster, it looks like he’s going to sub in for Timashov and Spezza is being rested.
Los Angeles Kings Lines
Carl Grundstrom - Anze Kopitar - Jeff Carter
Ilya Kovalchuk - Blake Lizotte - Tyler Toffoli
Alex Iafallo - Adrian Kempe - Dustin Brown
Kyle Clifford - Mike Amadio - Trevor Lewis
Alec Martinez - Drew Doughty
Ben Hutton - Sean Walker
Kurtis MacDermid - Matt Roy
There’s only one former Leaf playing tonight, and that is apparent first-line winger Carl Grundstrum. He was traded to the Kings in the Jake Muzzin deal, after playing a half season with the Toronto Marlies. The 2016 2nd round pick took a while to come over, and didn’t last long once he did.
With only Grundstrom as a former Leaf on the team, even the superstition about ex-Leafs on the team is no danger. This is a slam dunk, hole in one, every non-hockey sports metaphor you can think of.
Games at 7:30, GDT opens at 7, Buds are All Day.
Go Leafs Go!