Toronto Maple Leafs @ Seattle Kraken
09:00 PM at Climate Pledge Arena
Watch on: TVAS, SNO, ROOT-NW
The Leafs last game was yesterday against the Vancouver Canucks, which Toronto lost by a score of 6-4 in regulation. The Leafs have a record of 22-14-8 for a 0.591 Points %.
The Seattle Kraken last played an away game on January 18 against the Edmonton Oilers. The Kraken lost by a score of 4-2 in regulation, and their current league record is 19-17-9 for a 0.522 Points %.
Who are the Kraken? I looked at the lines below, and there are two people I'm sure I've never heard of. Partly that's because Yanni Gourde is serving a suspension. But partly it's because the Kraken have 11 players making between $4 million and $6 million. They've done it right! They haven't overspent on five guys, and that means... wait. They still have questionable depth? Next I'll discover they don't have any scoring from the bottom half of the lineup.
In reality their problem is the top half. Their leading goal-scorer is Jared McCann, and he has 18 goals. The next-highest player has 12.
Seattle began as a team building from the net out, and paying close attention to the cheaper, more readily available defensively skilled players. What they've failed to do since is add much offensive talent. Then they learned about goalie variance, and a promising start to the franchise turned them into the Islanders West.
At five-on-five, the Kraken sit atop the muddy middle of teams in tenth place in Expected Goals, with 52%. They're getting good goalie results this year and are seventh in team Save %.
Their power play is very bad, but they've scored a little bit over expected and are merely not very good in effect. Shorthanded, they have bad goaltending behind a bad PK.
They have legitimately enviable Expected Goals Against, top four in the NHL. And that's all they've got.
Projected via Daily Faceoff
Tomas Tatar - Jared McCann - Jordan Eberle
Eeli Tolvanen - Alex Wennberg - Oliver Bjorkstrand
Jaden Schwartz - Tye Kartye - Andre Burakovsky
John Hayden - Devin Shore - Brandon Tanev
Ryker Evans - Adam Larsson
Jamie Oleksiak - Will Borgen
Brian Dumoulin - Justin Schultz
Joey Daccord - likely starter
The Leafs had to travel to get to this game, but they at least had an early night last night. I do so hope they slept well and dreamed happy dreams of a world in which no one ever has to defend.
The mid-game switch of Liljegren and Benoit on defence seemed to actually help. I also think the object lesson of Pontus Holmberg working hard, grinding in the corners, etc. etc. on the top line has fulfilled its dual purpose. I think Tyler Bertuzzi got the point, and Holmberg got a lot of confidence he can take to a line lower down.
What will the Leafs put on the ice tonight? They have two extra defenders and one forward, so some changes can certainly happen. They've rolled along with 23 men on the roster now for quite a while while rarely using any of the extra players.
We'll see what Keefe decides for this game closer to puck drop.
Last Game (01/20) via Daily Faceoff
Pontus Holmberg - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner
Tyler Bertuzzi - John Tavares - William Nylander
Matthew Knies - Max Domi - Calle Järnkrok
Bobby McMann - David Kämpf - Noah Gregor
Morgan Rielly - T.J. Brodie
Jake McCabe - Timothy Liljegren
Mark Giordano - Simon Benoit
Ilya Samsonov - likely starter
The last game of a western road trip is a tough one to play well in. Fatigue is high, the desire for home is higher. And people just keep asking you to defend. It's tough out there.