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Preview: Leafs vs Islanders

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The rivalry is back!

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at New York Islanders Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Maple Leafs vs New York Islanders: 7:00pm

Watch on: CBC (Hockey Night in Canada)

Opponent’s site: Lighthouse Hockey

Tonight the Leafs will look to keep their nine-game point steak alive as they face the New York Islanders on home ice.

The Leafs have gotten* into a bit of a bad habit of having a minimum of one (1) disastrously bad period per game which was evident in Thursday’s game against the Jets and – despite all the wins and aforementioned point streak – is definitely going to bite them in the ass at some point. I’m not sure what the real fix is for that though, or if it’s even something that can be fixed all at once. Maybe they could have the replacement for “It’s a privilege, not a right” in the locker room read “A hockey game is 60 minutes”? On the other hand, if William Nylander decides to keep shooting at 20%, it might not even matter.

*for the last 1-2 years

The last time the Leafs faced the New York Islanders was on November 13th, when they lost 5-4 with a particularly grim showing from our special teams. The Leafs are also 1-3-0 in their last four games against the Islanders which I’m sure Isles fans are enjoying for their own Narrative™ but personally isn’t my favourite fun fact. The good news? This was all pre-Keefe and since the coaching change has solved all of our problems, that’s all the thought we have to give to the past.

Ok, ok, some actual information: the Islanders’ penalty kill is 11th in the league (81.3%) and has gone 11-for-11 through their last four games while the Leafs are sitting at 26th (75.4%). However, if you pick some incredibly arbitrary date like say, November 20th, to measure from instead, the Leafs PK is sitting at 79.5%, and is accompanied by a league-best powerplay of 36.6% during that time period. This does bode well for the Leafs’ chances of ending the Islanders’ penalty kill streak but either way, hopefully we won’t be looking at the same sort of special teams disaster we saw the last time we faced the Islanders.

Also, Michael Hutchinson will be starting in net, which means the Leafs will need to be a bit sharper defensively as well:

Maple Leafs Lines

Based on game vs Jets

Forwards

Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner
Alexander Kerfoot - John Tavares - William Nylander
Pierre Engvall - Jason Spezza - Kasperi Kapanen
Mason Marchment - Adam Brooks - Frederik Gauthier
Scratched: Dmytro Timashov
Injured: Andreas Johnsson, Illya Mikheyev, Trevor Moore

Defense

Morgan Rielly - Cody Ceci
Martin Marincin - Tyson Barrie
Travis Dermott - Justin Holl
Injured: Jake Muzzin

Goalies

Frederik Andersen
Michael Hutchinson

New York Islanders Lines

From Daily Faceoff

Forwards

Anders Lee - Mathew Barzal - Tom Kuhnhackl
Anthony Beauvillier - Brock Nelson - Derick Brassard
Ross Johnston - Josh Bailey - Jordan Eberle
Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Leo Komarov

Defense

Ryan Pulock - Noah Dobson
Devon Toews - Scott Mayfield
Nick Leddy - Johnny Boychuk

Goalies

Thomas Greiss
Semyon Varlamov