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FTB: The Leafs head south-west for a pair of late games

Back-to-back 10:00 p.m. ET games for the Leafs starting tonight in Vegas.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Vegas Golden Knights Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Maple Leafs four game swing through the US continues tonight with a game against the Vegas Golden Knights. This is the first of two games back-to-back—tomorrow’s is against the Arizona Coyotes—both with 10:00 p.m. ET starts, so if you live in Ontario you may want to take a nap after work today as both these games will go past midnight. Both games are TSN broadcasts too, meaning blackout restrictions will apply on NHL Live.

The Golden Knights sit at the top of the Pacific Division, though they seem to be regularly crushed by Central Division teams, several of which (the Avalanche, Blues, Wild, and Predators) have way higher points percentages that the Pacific teams in part because they crush them every time they visit. It’s hard to determine how good a team the Knights actually are at the moment, though this rare game against the Leafs might be a good benchmark for that purpose. We’ll have more detail on that in our preview of how the Leafs match-up against the Knights later this afternoon.

While the Leafs have been in the US, they’ve received some good news about one of their American prospects. Word came in yesterday from Harvard that Nick Abruzzese was named Player of the Week in the ECAC Conference.

The Leafs drafted Abruzzese at the 2019 draft in the fourth round. He played in the USHL before that on the Chicago Steel, which is where Marlies coach Greg Moore came from.

But that award may only be the beginning of the good news this week for Abruzzese, and the second item is a real feather in his cap.

Abruzzese could join Leafs draft pick Matt Knies on that Olympic team as he is also expected to be officially named at some point soon. The Olympic teams will likely have to be on the ground in China no more than three weeks from today as the opening ceremonies are on Friday February 4, so all this needs to be made official in the very near future.

Other News

Nazem Kadri is having the best season in his career. This is his 21st point in 12 games.

Evander Kane is on the move after the Sharks summarily terminated his contract for a very long list of reasons I won’t detail here. The NHL appears to have forgiven him though, with various outlets reporting that there is interest in signing him from at least ten different teams. Whatever happens here, it sounds like it will play out very soon.

Zach Whitecloud Is Having Stellar Sophomore Season - Knights On Ice
From an advanced metrics perspective, Zach Whitecloud has been far and away the Golden Knight’s most valuable player this season, and it comes in a year where he’s all but certain to set impressive career highs.

Oilers management is to blame for the issues in net - The Copper & Blue
A quick query using publicly available data and an understanding of the salary cap and player aging curves could have prevented this fiasco.

Sergei Fedorov’s bold overtime strategy: Pull the goalie - Davy Jones Locker Room
Let me introduce you to the latest strategy of Sergei Fedorov — and the wrinkle to importing that strategy to the NHL: Rule 84.2.

Colton Parayko is Proving the Doubters Wrong - St. Louis Game Time
The blueliner has gone from having his name circulated in trade rumours last season to once again being one of the Blues top defensemen.

I hope your day goes better that Rick Bowness’