Toronto Maple Leafs @ Anaheim Ducks

Time: 10:00 p.m.
Location: The Randy Carlyle Centre for Toasted Bread Excellence
Broadcast/Streaming: TSN4 (blackouts in effect)
Opponent SB Nation Site: Anaheim Calling

After last night’s thumping of the Sharks, the Leafs are poised to have their best result in California in recent memory, potentially ending their annual trip to west coast tonight with a three game sweep of the state.

The Anaheim Ducks coach has other plans of course, but he’s Randy Carlyle and has proven incompetent with yet another assignment this season. The Ducks presently sit behind even the Coyotes in the West.

Let me repeat that.

The Ducks have been so poorly coached they are behind even the Coyotes in the league standings. However, we should give some credit to John Chayka: these aren’t your father’s Coyotes. We’ll worry about them later though. The Leafs don’t play them until January.

Right now it’s November, WHEN IT MATTERS, and we have a game that starts 30 minutes earlier than the others this week, so perhaps we can get a good sleep tonight.

This is it for the week, folks. There’s no Leafs game tomorrow on Hockey Night in Canada. The only Leafs game is going to be a party at a certain player’s beach house in Newport. California here we come!

Maple Leafs (based on previous game)

Forward Lines

Zach Hyman - John Tavares - Mitchell Marner
Patrick Marleau - Nazem Kadri - Kasperi Kapanen
Andreas Johnsson - Par Lindholm - Connor Brown
Josh Leivo - Frederik Gauthier - Tyler Ennis

Defence Pairings

Morgan Rielly - Ron Hainsey
Jake Gardiner - Nikita Zaitsev
Travis Dermott - Igor Ozhiganov

Goaltenders (starter to be confirmed later this morning)

Garret Sparks
Frederik Andersen

I am assuming Sparks will be in net tonight since Andersen took the first two games on this road trip. Whether or not Trevor Moore will draw in is still TBD. We will update this section as needed.

Anaheim Ducks lines (based on previous game)

Forward Lines

Rickard Rakell - Ryan Getzlaf - Pontus Aberg
Andrew Cogliano - Ryan Kesler - Jakob Silfverberg
Nick Ritchie - Adam Henrique - Ondrej Kase
Brian Gibbons - Kalle Kossila - Kiefer Sherwood

Defence Pairings

Hampus Lindholm - Jacob Larsson
Andy Welinski - Josh Manson
Marcus Pettersson - Brandon Montour

Goaltenders (starter to be confirmed later this morning)

John Gibson
Ryan Miller

Cam Fowler is out after taking a puck to the face that literally shattered parts of his skull. Also still out on injury is Carlyle favourite Korbinian Holzer!

Let’s talk about Kasperi Kapanen

I know you are all shocked that I want to talk about Kapanen, but someone has to point out how I pegged him as being so awesome in our Top 25 Under 25. It certainly has not been commented on with sufficient frequency that I was the biggest Kapanen fan on the site and Kapanen is awesome. The burden of telling you all that repeatedly has has fallen to me because Fulemin simply won’t accept this task!

He’s like a Pokemon. You want to give him lots of love, keep leveling him up, and take care of him because he’s always there when you need him.

He’s also 50% Albert Einstein.

Move over, Mo. We’ve got a Top 25 Under 25 candidate to replace you! Perhaps my Kappy bias is showing.

I don’t care because TOLDJA!

The Ducks

Let’s talk about the task at hand tonight: Randy Carlyle’s Anaheim Ducks 2.0. They presently have an 8-9-3 record, which in the bizarro NHL Western Conference is good enough to put them one point back of a Wild Card playoff spot; tied for that honour with both the Coyotes and Oilers.

Yes. Randy Carlyle is still a coach in the National Hockey League and somehow also once again coach of the Ducks, though he is actively trying to blow up that career move. Look at what happened in the Ducks’ last game Wednesday. They had the shot tally in their favour for the whole game, but lost 5-0 to the Golden Knights (this is 5 vs. 5 only).

(thinking face emoji)

That is so not what I expected to see to the point that I originally read that chart backwards, believing that the Golden Knights hilariously outshot the Ducks. But, no. The Ducks did not play Carlyle hockey in that game. However, they they have for most of this season. According to Natural Stat Trick the Ducks even strength CF% this season is a lowly 44.20%. The only team with a worse rating are the Ottawa Senators, and it’s not just bad luck for the Ducks because their PDO is at 1.013.

They actually lead the offence in their last game, a big turnaround given the season stats, but they still couldn’t finish what they started. They get burned once they commit. They need some maintenance and don’t have it. They get stuck inside the oven!

Worst of all, they think the solution to this mess is to make a trade for our viking boy!

Ducks Should Work to Acquire Nylander



These annual California road trips will forever remind me of that horrible 2014-15 season where the Leafs left in March with two wins and a great sense of optimism. They looked like maybe, just maybe they could pull off sitting on top of the playoff bubble without popping it.

Of course, that’s what they did. They popped the bubble and lost the next eight games. Talk about deflating. As a fan that was the most anti-climatic end to a road trip ever.

This time. that’s not going to happen. Perhaps I have a false sense of hubris, but I call it pride in this team and hose they are handling the adversity of a long season, the loss of Nylander and Matthews, and how they are still winning the games. Players like Kapanen are the spokes on the wheel of success. Tonight, if they get that final win, it will be a message to the whole league: the Leafs are back.

Wouldn’t it be damn poetic if a Leafs win tonight resulted in Carlyle getting fired?

“California. Right back where we started from.”