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Preview: Maple Leafs vs. Canucks game #2 of 3 in a row

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An update on the Leafs vs. Canucks mini-series.

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Toronto Maple Leafs John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Vancouver Canucks vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

7:00 p.m. E.T. on CBC and Sportsnet, CITY TV (Toronto), and the NHL Network
SB Nation Opponent’s site: Nucks Misconduct

The Canucks and Maple Leafs are back at it again for the second of three games in a row, two days after the Canucks were humiliated, both by losing 7-3 and watching 37 year-old Jason Spezza(!) scoring a hat trick. The Canucks were outclassed in every way by the Leafs on Thursday and we got some insight into why their record has been so poor this season. Perhaps tonight they will put up a little more fight.

Tonight’s game will be on CBC on Hockey Night in Canada after the Leafs were surprisingly shunted off of the CBC last weekend in favour of the Canadiens vs. Flames game.

Projected Leafs Lines

(source: Terry Koshan)

Zach Hyman — Auston Matthews — Mitch Marner
William Nylander — John Tavares — Wayne Simmonds
Jimmy Vesey — Alex Kerfoot — Ilya Mikheyev
Nic Petan — Travis Boyd — Jason Spezza

Morgan Rielly — T.J. Brodie
Jake Muzzin — Justin Holl
Mikko Lehtonen — Zach Bogosian

Frederik Andersen (presumed starter)
Michael Hutchinson

Projected Canucks Lines

(previous game, but presumed goalie changed to Holtby)

J.T. Miller — Elias Pettersson — Brock Boeser
Tanner Pearson — Bo Horvat — Nils Hoglander/Loui Eriksson (?)
Adam Gaudette — Brandon Sutter — Zack MacEwen
Jake Virtanen — Jay Beagle — Tyler Motte

Quinn Hughes — Jordie Benn
Nate Schmidt — Tyler Myers
Alexander Edler — Jalen Chatfield

Braden Holtby (UPDATE: Holtby is presumed starter)
Thatcher Demko
(actual starter not yet clear)

Loui Eriksson might be back from a long term injury tonight. It’s not clear if he will play yet, but it would bump some players down on the left wing side if he was slotted in on the second line.

In the last preview, I noted how the Canucks had a “bright red blob of death” in occupying the slot in front of the opposing team net in shot analysis charts, but also noted that they had beat up on the Ottawa Senators so much and so easily it was hard to separate out what was real through the season and what was Senators, but we had an idea that something was up given how the Canadiens completely reversed their offensive stats against them earlier this week.

It appears the Leafs have continued what the Habs started. Here’s a visualisation of even strength shot attempts from Thursday’s game, sourced from Natural Stat Trick.

Natural Stat Trick

Note how the Canucks shooting is much more sparse, and was forced several feet away from the slot, while the Leafs now occupy that spot when they are on the attack against the Canucks, though compressed a bit more into the net-front area. The Leafs also had a huge advantage in Expected Goals per Natural Stat Trick’s model all game too.

Natural Stat Trick

If the Leafs can hold that advantage, they are winning in a rout again. The outcome of this game will tell us a lot more about the Canucks than the Leafs, and Jim Benning’s time as Canucks’ General Manager is kind of suddenly hanging in the balance here. Another rout and there could be a riot in the streets of Vancouver tonight.
Note: PPP Kitten Ranching Industries Aksjeselskap does not endorse rioting unless done in a socially distanced manner.

Poll

Who is the Canucks greatest enemy?

This poll is closed

  • 49%
    Jim Benning
    (117 votes)
  • 28%
    Jason Spezza
    (69 votes)
  • 21%
    I can’t decide between those two!
    (52 votes)
238 votes total Vote Now