Toronto Maple Leafs at San Jose Sharks
10:30 pm on NCBSCA and SNO
The last time the Leafs played in San Jose, it also started at 10:30 at night, but not much else is the same as it was that night. The Leafs lost it 5-2. Jack Campbell was in net, and he was terrible. Tyson Barrie led the Leafs in ice time, and Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner had the goals for the Leafs. The Leafs defence was Barrie, Travis Dermott, Justin Holl, Martin Marincin, Calle Rosén, and Timothy Liljegren. Frederik Gauthier and Kyle Clifford both appeared in the game.
Joe Thornton played 15 minutes for the Sharks, Martin Jones was in net, and a host of forwards now on other teams, many in other countries, made up a roster that helped the team finish last in the Western Conference.
That was then. This is now.
The Sharks have turned over a lot of their roster in two seasons, and are having a surprisingly good start so far this year. They are at .553 in points percentage, good for fifth in the Pacific which puts them very close to a playoff spot. They have to believe now that a wild card spot is possible for them.
So far, the Sharks are at 49% Expected Goals at 5on5 on a worse Corsi, and they have a very good powerplay in terms of shot quality, but haven’t actually scored all that much with it.
Their good Expected Goals % is coming from the defensive side, where they actually do limit other teams to a lot of point shots and keep them away from the net. Their offence is, unfortunately for them, a mirror of what they allow other teams to produce.
The Sharks were shutout by the Capitals last weekend 4-0, and then they beat the Hurricanes in OT 2-1 and the Senators 6-3. That’s what you get with a team that’s neither good nor bad — they can lose horribly, barely win, or blow out a weak opponent.
The Sharks are a top-heavy team with Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier playing dramatically more minutes than the rest of the team. They’re used in a way the top Leafs are, mixing them up with various wingers that changes from game to game. The expected lines (from Curtis Pashelka via Daily Faceoff) are:
Timo Meier - Logan Couture - Rudolfs Balcers
Alexander Barabanov - Tomas Hertl - Noah Gregor
Mathew Nieto - Jasper Weatherby - Kevin Labanc
Andrew Cogliano - Nick Bonino - Jonah Gadjovich
Mario Ferraro - Brent Burns
Jacob Middleton - Erik Karlsson
Marc-Édouard Vlasic - Radim Simek
James Reimer - expected starter
To answer your questions:
No, he’s not related to Ray. Yes, really he’s on the second line. Yes, I made that name up. Yes, that sounds like the name of a country lawyer in a Lifetime Holiday Movie. Yes, he’s Keaton’s brother. No, I didn’t make that other name up.
This was the last Leafs practice:
#Leafs lines at practice in SJ Nov. 25/21— David Alter (@dalter) November 25, 2021
Absent: Kase, Campbell
David Kämpf was back after missing most of the Kings game, but Ondřej Kaše was not around, and he is confirmed out for this game. Kirill Semyonov will draw in, so that looks like the lines.
Joe Woll is confirmed as the starter, and while Petr Mrázek practiced, he’s still on LTIR, so expect Jack Campbell to be the backup tonight.
Woll vs Reimer, what else is there to say?