clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Calgary Flames preview: Coolin’ Tkachuks

New, comments

Two-game series to cool the flames

Calgary Flames v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

The last time the Leafs and Flames squared off, head coach Darryl Sutter wanted to make it clear that it was a 4:00 PM start in Calgary vs. a 7:00 PM start in Ontario. He won’t have anything to complain about tonight as the next two are Alberta time zone-friendly which means it’s time to bust out the coffee.

Game 38: Toronto Maple Leafs @ Calgary Flames

Date: Sunday, April 4, 2021
Time: 9:00 PM
Place: Scotiabank Saddledome
Channel: TSN4, SNW

Game 39: Toronto Maple Leafs @ Calgary Flames

Date: Monday, April 5, 2021
Time: 9:30 PM
Place: Scotiabank Saddledome
Channel: TSN4, SNW, SNF

The Leafs had a practice in Calgary, with Justin Holl and Jack Campbell being the only absentees. Campbell did appear to strain himself after a big save against the Winnipeg Jets, but missing practices have been part of the team’s mindset for the last few weeks.

Aside from that, giving Campbell the complete day off from games is another technique in the toolbox of game management.

It was already confirmed that Michael Hutchinson would get the start, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Veini Vehviläinen back him up (similar to the March 29th game against the Edmonton Oilers).

Toronto Maple Leafs

Forwards

Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner
Alex Galchenyuk - John Tavares - William Nylander
Joe Thornton - Alex Kerfoot - Jason Spezza
Wayne Simmonds - Pierre Engvall - Ilya Mikheyev

Defence

Morgan Rielly - T.J. Brodie
Jake Muzzin - Justin Holl
Travis Dermott - Zach Bogosian

Goaltenders

Michael Hutchinson
Veini Vehviläinen

The balance of the Leafs' forward lines has been nice to watch over the last few games. Hyman is continuing to prove why he shouldn’t be taken away from Matthews and Marner, while the second line is gelling rather well. Galchenyuk’s Hyman energy is a great complement to JT and Willy, and although the trio didn’t have the best start, they were able to generate some chances against the Jets.

That said, those chances created by the top-six need to be capitalized on. It was Travis Dermott who got the Leafs on the board while Jason Spezza ripped another hole in the space-time continuum for his shootout winner.

Spezza scored in back-to-back games against the Flames the last time they played, so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep him in mind.

Speaking of scoring against Calgary, Wayne Simmonds is another player to watch. He got his first as a Leaf against the Flames and scored another the next game via Justin Holl. Simmonds has been very critical of his game since returning from injury, and it’s clear Sheldon Keefe is trying to find ways for him to contribute.

As for Hutch, it may be a mind game or seeing what we want to see, but it does appear that the Leafs are more collapsing when he’s in net. It’s not his fault, and there’s only so much he can do, but Campbell had some big saves against the Jets to keep the game even. Either the Leafs need to play structured in front of him or get ready to score 4 or 5. Hutchinson does have a .917 save percentage which is not a bad number, but the confidence in him has dwindled. Hopefully, he changes that.

Calgary Flames

The Flames are 3-7 in their last 10 games, including back-to-back losses to the Ottawa Senators. For a team looking and hoping for a last-minute playoff push after hiring a new coach, that is far from ideal.

Their offence has also cooled as they’ve only scored more than 2 goals twice in this 10-game stretch.

Forward Micahel Backlund is day-to-day, having missed Friday’s practice with an undisclosed injury. He was also missing in the team’s 3-2 loss to Edmonton moving Sam Bennett to the third-line centre role.

Forwards

Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Brett Ritchie
Matthew Tkachuk - Elias Lindholm - Dillon Dube
Milan Lucic - Sam Bennett - Andrew Mangiapane
Josh Leivo - Derek Ryan - Joakim Nordstrom

Defence

Mark Giordano - Rasmus Andersson
Noah Hanifin - Chris Tanev
Juuso Valimaki - Michael Stone

Goaltenders

Jacob Markstrom
David Rittich

Lines via Salim Nadim Valji

Late updates:

When it comes to players on the Flames to look out for, we usually end up gravitating towards #19. Tkachuk has been all over social media for the highs and lows of a team slump. There was the failed drawn call against the Jets, which likely didn’t sit too well with Sutter and co:

But he also scored a nice goal coming out of the penalty box to give the Flames a 2-1 lead (for the time being).

You can bet he’ll be the lead charge of trying to energize the Flames, especially if the Leafs have a strong start off puck drop. And considering the next two games are back-to-back, the carry-over from this one will be fresh on Monday.

On the bright side, Auston Matthews seems to be fiery as of late.

Let’s make it three-in-a-row!