Vegas Golden Knights @ Toronto Maple Leafs
07:00 PM at Scotiabank Arena
Watch on: TSN4, ATTSN-RM
Opponent’s Site: Knights On Ice
The Leafs last game was an away game on November 6 against the Carolina Hurricanes, which Toronto won by a score of 3-1. The Leafs have a record of 7-4-2 so far.
The Vegas Golden Knights last played an away game on November 5 against the Montréal Canadiens. The Golden Knights won by a score of 6-4, and their current league record is 11-2-0.
Vegas beat up a moribund Leafs team two weeks ago, and in the interim they have just continued to roll over everyone while playing random guys in net. They’ve won every game since, beating up the entire list of bottom-feeders that Toronto can’t handle.
- 4-2 over the Sharks
- 4-0 over the Ducks
- 2-1 over the Jets
- 3-2 over the Capitals
- 5-4 over the Senators
- 6-4 over the Canadiens
The Vegas Eastern road trip is going great! Logan Thompson (who?) is doing great in net! Adin Hill has been a steady backup. More like Robin who amirite?
Meanwhile they have three forward lines in the top 30 by Expected Goals and they just took over first place in the NHL from the Bruins.
Their defence is not as good as their offence, but then almost no one’s is as good as that excellent offensive record. They’re only real weakness is a poorly structured power play that doesn’t shoot enough from the slot.
Source: Last Game (11/05) via Daily Faceoff
Chandler Stephenson - Jack Eichel - Mark Stone
Jonathan Marchessault - William Karlsson - Reilly Smith
Mike Amadio - Brett Howden - Phil Kessel
Will Carrier - Nicolas Roy - Keegan Kolesar
Alec Martinez - Alex Pietrangelo
Brayden McNabb - Shea Theodore
Nicolas Hague - Zach Whitecloud
Logan Thompson - likely starter
The Leafs are not rocking the league with their “anyone handy” goalie approach. They aren’t dominating offensively, their defence has been sporadically appalling and their shooting has been so unlucky even people who think shooting % is a measure of how hard you try are convinced it will change.
The team has been better than their disastrous road trip results, but they also got handed a gift from Carolina in their last game where the ‘Canes missed on most of their shots and the goalie du jour was good enough to stop all the rest.
Their best line has been their fourth line, and no that’s not actually a good thing. Not even when you recognize that the fourth line was the third line by usage in Carolina.
Sheldon Keefe switched up the lines last game into the arrangement that to many of us here at PPP Just Makes Sense™ (Registered trademark of Hardev Lad LLC, Isle of Man). If he sticks with it, the lineup would be:
Alex Kerfoot - Auston Matthews - William Nylander
Nick Robertson - John Tavares - Mitch Marner
Michael Bunting - Pierre Engvall - Calle Järnkrok -
Zach Aston-Reese - David Kämpf - Denis Malgin
Morgan Rielly - Timothy Liljegren
TJ Brodie - Justin Holl
Mark Giordano - Rasmus Sandin
The JMS lineup does a whole host of things:
- It puts Mitch Marner with the centre who can most benefit from his playmaking
- It puts William Nylander with Matthews and gives that line a rush option and some deeper initial penetration on zone entries — Marner hangs back more
- It puts Alex Kerfoot as the least effective of the top-six on the line where he is required to do the least
- It creates a role for Nick Robertson to use his shooting skills while arguably the second best top-six forward at avoiding defensive snafus (Marner) is there to, well, avoid defensive snafus
- It gets Michael Bunting on an “energy line” where he belongs
Why isn’t the JMS formation SOP? Because it splits up Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. You know the thing Mike Babcock was in favour of? In the coaching tautology period, where everything Babcock did was wrong because everything he did was wrong and everything Keefe did was right because everything he did was right, the idea that Matthews and Marner shouldn’t be stapled together like the Skipper and Gilligan was unthinkable.
I have zero expectation that Keefe will really change his spots, and the JMS formation will endure. I think the buy-in on the chemistry between Marner and Matthews is so strong in the Leafs hockey ops dept. — for whatever reasons — that this is seen as a kind of kick in the ass punishment for some poor results and poor play from Marner.
I can’t make the Leafs do what I want, so I don’t harp on this, but this has been the lineup I would use most of the time. I would be explicit about which line is the third line and I would be investigating ways to get more value out of Calle Järnkrok’s skills, though.
Toronto vs Vegas
|61.5 - 11th||Points % - Ranking||84.6 - 1st|
|2.846 - 22nd||Goals/Game - Ranking||3.538 - 7th|
|2.615 - 8th||Goals Against/Game - Ranking||2.077 - 1st|
|26.1 - 10th||Power Play% - Ranking||23.8 - 14th|
|75.0 - 22nd||Penalty Kill% - Ranking||76.7 - 20th|
|9.1 - 24th||Team Sh% - Ranking||10.3 - 14th|
|0.906 - 11th||Team Sv% - Ranking||0.930 - 1st|
|John Tavares - 8||Most Goals (NST)||Jonathan Marchessault - 6|
|John Tavares - 15||Most Points (NST)||Jack Eichel - 14|
|Michael Bunting - 22||Most PIM (NST)||Zach Whitecloud - 11|
|Morgan Rielly - 23.38||TOI Leader (NST)||Alex Pietrangelo - 23.68|
Vegas is as tough an opponent as they get. Toronto needs to be up for this game like they were the Bruins, and they can’t rely on Vegas opening up the defensive zone like the new Bruins seem to do. They have to make things happen.
Go Leafs Go, break their win streak.