Game 77: Toronto Maple Leafs at Philadelphia Flyers
Location: Wells Fargo Center
Opponent SBNation Site: Broad Street Hockey
Well, they made it interesting for a while there, but it looks like the Philadelphia Flyers won’t be able to pull themselves out of the hole they dug earlier in the season. They’re in the sad endgame situation Leaf fans might remember from a few years back, where they need to win out and hope their competition goes on a drug bender in order to sneak into the playoffs. A loss tonight would pretty much snuff out even that sputtering flame.
Anyway, the last time these two teams met, we were all much younger and more innocent, enough that I can barely remem—oh, it was twelve days ago. The Leafs won 7-6 in a barn burner, but having tightened up their defence since, are coming off a game they won in a 7-5 barn burner instead. Good work, gang.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Zach Hyman - John Tavares - Mitch Marner
Andreas Johnsson - Auston Matthews - William Nylander
Patrick Marleau - Nazem Kadri - Kasperi Kapanen
Tyler Ennis - Frederik Gauthier - Connor Brown
Morgan Rielly - Ron Hainsey
Jake Muzzin - Nikita Zaitsev
Martin Marincin - Igor Ozhiganov
PLEASE COME BACK JAKE GARDINER
I MISS YOU SO MUCH
Ahem. Anyway, the Leaf forward group that made mincemeat of an indifferent Panthers’ defence is back and ready to roll. It’s pretty unlikely, but John Tavares has an outside chance at the Rocket Richard if he finishes the year hot and Alex Ovechkin slows down like he did that one year when Dale Hunter told him goals were for losers. Mitch Marner now has 90 points and will require a contract this summer valued at $billions.
We’re hopeful for the imminent return of Travis Dermott, the rise of Calle Rosen, and the Second Coming of JG, but it doesn’t look like any of those things are happening yet. There should be a reaction cam on Mike Babcock whenever Justin Holl plays to see whether his lips disappear entirely in his expression of distaste.
Freddie Andersen gets the start. We’re going on the horror movie principle: we’re not sure we’ve clinched until we’ve clinched, and if we’re wrong we might get murdered.
James van Riemsdyk - Nolan Patrick - Claude Giroux
Oskar Lindblom - Sean Couturier - Jakub Voracek
Ryan Hartman - Scott Laughton - Travis Konecny
Michael Raffl - Corban Knight - Justin Bailey
Ivan Provorov - Travis Sanheim
Shayne Gostisbehere - Philippe Myers
Robert Hagg - Radko Gudas
We know those defence pairings aren’t quite right—they were current as of yesterday but there’s a new name to be added.
The Flyera, as they are lovingly called, really ought to be better. They have the designated heir to the Selke Throne, Sean Couturier; they have the still-impressive Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, and they have some secondary scoring from old friend JVR and Guy We Could Have Drafted Travis Konecny. They do get goals at a slightly above average rate, but the defence just hasn’t been there. Ivan Provorov plays tough minutes, but he gets outshot in them and the team as a whole is underwater in Corsi. GA does look to be the culprit, and despite the classic Flyers Goalie Curse, that end of it has been okay: Brian Elliott has put up .912 and Wonderboy Carter Hart has posted a .921, in 25 and 27 GP respectively.
If the last game didn’t tip you off, this one has the potential to involve an awful lot of chances at either end, and if the Flyers have a last gasp in them we might have the misfortune of seeing it. Still, the Leafs have two first lines and that ought to be enough to beat a porous team most nights.
Go Leafs Go.