Anaheim Ducks @ Toronto Maple Leafs
07:00 PM at Scotiabank Arena

The Leafs last game was at home on February 15 against the Philadelphia Flyers, which Toronto won by a score of 4-3 in overtime. The Leafs have a record of 28-16-8 for a 0.615 Points %.

The Anaheim Ducks last played away on February 15 against the Ottawa Senators. The Ducks won by a score of 5-1 in regulation, and their current league record is 19-32-2 for a 0.377 Points %.


They've straight up lost 32 times. But there are many ways to lose, how do the Ducks do it?

They are third last in the NHL by Points %, and while an esoteric argument might be fun about who is worse, the Sharks or Chicago, the reality is the Ducks are not in their class. They actually score some goals, and are closer to the worst team in the east – Columbus.

For very bad teams, their shot metrics can look okay, or at least not dreadful, because other teams can laze around for two periods and beat them in the third. This is what the Blue Jackets look like with 80 GA in period 3, and 104 in the other two combined. But the Ducks show a much more gentle decline into losing: 51, 59, 69. They also score a lot more in the third period, which could just mean they are usually trailing. But they don't quite have a true bad team profile.

The Ducks have the most effective goaltending at the bottom of the league. Of the truly awful teams, only Columbus has goalies actively making them worse. Making this season a little bit unusual. And might explain at least a little why the Leafs needed overtime to beat the Ducks in January.

John Gibson is 23rd in the NHL for goalies with at least 15 games played by Goals Saved Above Expected per 60. He's played 34 games, and next up is Lukas Dostal who goalied the Leafs at 43rd in 25 games.

Ducks goalie John Gibson exits game vs. Senators with upper-body injury
Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson left Thursday’s game against the Ottawa Senators after two periods with an upper-body injury, the team announced.

Gibson has left the game twice lately and seems unlikely to be in for the Leafs.

A lot of teams will be watching the Ducks looking at Adam Henrique, Frank Vatrano and all their defenders. Someone will trade for Ilya Lyubushkin, but he is pretty much the worst defender in the NHL this season. Radko Gudas is having a career year at 33 playing in games with no jeopardy. If he wants to take his three year time-bomb contract to another team, he can waive the full no-trade, but I doubt he will.

What Gudas is doing is making partner Urho Vaakanainen look really good. The Ducks got him in the Hampus Lindholm trade, and if they want to avoid his arbitration rights and keep the costs super low – this team's main operating principle of late – they could be convinced. But like most teams with defenders, the convincing is going to be expensive. Although Vaakanainen only has nine points, and pointzalytics might make him cheaper. He defends and nothing else. Reminds me of some other former Duck they played hard and then dumped on the side of the road.


Last Game (02/15) via Daily Faceoff

Adam Henrique - Leo Carlsson - Ryan Strome
Frank Vatrano - Mason McTavish - Troy Terry
Max Jones - Isac Lundestrom - Jakob Silfverberg
Ross Johnston - Sam Carrick - Bo Groulx

Gustav Lindstrom - Cam Fowler
Urho Vaakanainen - Radko Gudas
Pavel Mintyukov - Ilya Lyubushkin

Lukas Dostal
John Gibson


The Leafs won their last game, but mostly by accident. In thinking that game over after the fact, a great deal of what looks like inattention is merely ineffectiveness. All teams look bad chasing the play, and for the Leafs without Morgan Rielly, moving the puck, keeping the puck, shooting the puck is a lot more difficult. The illusion created by the preseason-style win over the Blues cracked right down the middle against a Flyers team that tries very hard not to make mistakes.

The Flyers hard-work, low-skill game is just an elite version of what the Leafs beat the Blues with. And it has a massive weakness in that it's not about trying to score. Ask William Nylander what the point of hockey is. Now ask your friendly neighbourhood grinder like Adam Henrique.

In years past the Leafs have had good enough defence that it looked like their losses were from who got goals or who got good chances to get goals, depending on who you asked. The Leafs tried to find people to get goals and people to help the existing players get more chances, but until the puck possession problem is solved, none of it is going to be enough.

Someday, when the price comes down, the Leafs might have a new defenceman. For tonight, it's top pair Brodie - Liljegren again.

If you missed the news, Mark Giordano's father died on Thursday night, and he has been away from the team.

The roster is in flux, with the minor injury (undisclosed) to Martin Jones, Dennis Hildeby is still with the team, Max Lajoie was recalled after returning to the Marlies. Alex Steeves is back in the AHL, however.

Samsonov is taking the Monday afternoon start, so it's Jones back in the net tonight.

John Tavares, who looked very unready to be returning from illness in the game on Thursday, was absent from morning skate, and Sheldon Keefe says Tavares is unavailable tonight, day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.


Morning Skate

Matthew Knies - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner
Tyler Bertuzzi - Max Domi - William Nylander
Bobby McMann - Pontus Holmberg - Nicholas Robertson
Noah Gregor - David Kämpf - Ryan Reaves

T.J. Brodie - Timothy Liljegren
Simon Benoit - Jake McCabe
Max Lajoie - William Lagesson

Martin Jones - starter
Ilya Samsonov or Dennis Hildeby to backup

The Game

Playing the Ducks takes concerted focus if the goalie is on his game. There's certainly enough scoring talent scattered in their top six for them to take advantage of turnovers and sloppy play near the blueline. Their skilled players have youth and speed going for them too.

Keep on the puck and you win, though. Ottawa put up a stinky first period in their humiliating loss. They got behind, and they couldn't solve the Ducks' goalies and they tried so hard, they ended up further behind. Not a good plan for the Leafs to emulate.