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Preview: Duck hunting or more like shooting fish in a barrel?

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Coming off a loss that would have got the coach of many a team fired, the Ducks roll into town to face the former purveyors of Randy-puck.

NHL: Anaheim Ducks at Winnipeg Jets
Ducks getting it in the teeth from the Jets.
James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

Anaheim Ducks vs Toronto Maple Leafs: Game #52

Time: 7:00 p.m.

Location: SBA

Broadcast/Streaming: TSN4, Prime (whatever that is)

Opponent SBNation Site: Anaheim Calling

The Leafs are playing again, right on the heels of a back-to-back coming off the bye week. And they welcome the Ducks at an auspicious time. The Leafs laid down a good game on Saturday against a Pittsburgh Penguins team that was a little tepid in the offence department.

With Martin Marincin in the AHL, the Leafs have room to add a forward if Tyler Ennis is ready, which looks like it’s going to be soon.

Maple Leafs

From morning skate:

Forward Lines

Zach Hyman - John Tavares - Mitch Marner
Patrick Marleau - Auston Matthews - Kasperi Kapanen
Connor Brown - Nazem Kadri - William Nylander
Par Lindholm - Frederik Gauthier - Andreas Johnsson
Tyler Ennis

Defence Pairings

Morgan Rielly - Jake Muzzin
Jake Gardiner - Nikita Zaitsev
Travis Dermott - Ron Hainsey

Goaltenders

Frederik Andersen - starter
Garret Sparks

Anaheim Ducks

Lines assembled from Cap Friendly’s nifty new line tool.

Forward Lines

Rickard Rakell - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Devin Shore - Adam Henrique - Jakob Silfverberg
Nick Ritchie - Derek Grant - Daniel Sprong
Brian Gibbons - Carter Rowney - Patrick Eaves

Defence Pairings

Hampus Lindholm - Brandon Montour
Cam Fowler - Josh Manson
Michael Del Zotto - Korbinian Holzer

Goaltenders

Saint John Gibson
Chad Johnson


It seems the 9-3 loss to the Jets last game upset the coach. There were comments about effort and such, so we might see some lineup shuffling today. In fun news, Adam Cracknell is currently on the NHL team after getting a call-up there he never got while in Toronto. He could play tonight in some effort to find some intensity.

The coach wasn’t wrong in his assessment. This was no goalie collapse under massive pressure this was a really bad team just not playing and giving the Jets easy chances:

NHL.com lists the Ducks as having lost the last three, but the Ducks fans are quoting two wins in the last 15 games. Because the west is weird, and the Pacific is extra-special weird, the Ducks are simultaneously in the third last place in the west, down there with LA and Chicago, with a goal differential of -39, while also being three points out of a playoff spot. That spot is currently held by Vancouver, who are also bad.

The epic loss to the Jets came after the Ducks were on their bye week, and just embarking on a road trip, so I don’t expect that kind of a cruising win for the Leafs. John Gibson likes to play tough against his old tandem-mate Frederik Andersen, and the players might be hoping a good team like Toronto notices them play well, so they might try that just this once. I mean, they really didn’t the last time the Leafs played them, but you never know.

Now here’s a little bit of reality about the Ducks, the way they play, and the way the Leafs play. The Ducks have one more game in the bag than the Leafs, but their total Corsi Against at five on five is 2524 for the Ducks and 2519 for Toronto. Even if you rate that out per 60 minutes, they’re almost identical and near the worst in the NHL. Gibson and Andersen share an almost identical workload and have fairly similar results this year overall.

The difference is that the Leafs play at a very high pace all the time and the Corsi For is 2632 for the Leafs, which is fifth, and the Ducks have 2230, which is seventh worst. The Leafs are an offensive powerhouse at even strength, which duh, just go compare the forward lineups. And as we all know by now, Jake Muzzin, notwithstanding, the Leafs need to score goals in bulk to win. Maybe not nine, though. Four is likely enough.

Go Leafs Go! Go Score Four!