Toronto Maple Leafs @ Anaheim Ducks
09:00 PM at Honda Center
Watch on: TVAS, SN, BSW
The Anaheim Ducks last played at home on December 31 against the Edmonton Oilers. The Ducks lost by a score of 7-2 in regulation, and their current league record is 13-23-0 for a 0.361 Points %.
The Leafs last game was yesterday against the Los Angeles Kings, which Toronto won by a score of 3-0 in regulation. The Leafs have a record of 18-10-7 for a 0.614 Points %.
Last year the Ducks were trying very, very hard to be worse than Chicago, and couldn't do it in a division too easy to win in. This year, they've started to try to be better. Are they?
They're in the bottom 10 in Corsi and bottom five in Expected Goals at five-on-five, so if they are better, it's a subtle difference. Their Expected Goals percentage is actually seven percentage points higher, but their Goals For percentage is one point higher. So they might seem better, but it's not translating into the thing that gets you wins.
Their power play is nearly identically bad, but they are scoring there a little more often. Overall their team Shooting and Save percentages are identical. Last year their full season Points % was .354, not dramatically worse than their current figure.
No, they really aren't better.
Their reward for all that losing was Leo Carlsson who is out four-to-six weeks with a sprained MCL. He suffered this injury just before Christmas. Troy Terry is day-to-day, but forward Isac Lundestrom, out after having off-season surgery, makes his debut today. No word on where he draws in. And the Ducks did not have a full morning skate.
Overall their goaltending is bad, but John Gibson is having a good year. For goalies with at least 10 starts, he's in 24th place by Goals Saved Above Expected per 60 minutes. So the Ducks are two teams – one with Gibson, and one without.
Derek Lee via Daily Faceoff from yesterday's practice.
Alex Killorn - Mason McTavish - Frank Vatrano
Max Jones - Trevor Zegras - Ryan Strome
Brock McGinn - Adam Henrique - Brett Leason
Ross Johnston - Sam Carrick - Jakob Silfverberg
Cam Fowler - Jamie Drysdale
Urho Vaakanainen - Radko Gudas
Pavel Mintyukov - Ilya Lyubushkin
Lukas Dostal - confirmed starter
The Leafs can make some changes heading into the SEGABABA if they like. They have two extra defenders in Conor Timmins and William Lagesson and one forward in Pontus Holmberg.
Unless Benoit hurt his hand very badly fighting Andreas Englund last night, I don't think there will be a change.
Now for the real question: who is in net? So far, no one is saying.
Last Game (01/02) via Daily Faceoff
Matthew Knies - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner
Tyler Bertuzzi - John Tavares - William Nylander
Nicholas Robertson - Max Domi - Calle Järnkrok
Bobby McMann - David Kämpf - Noah Gregor
Morgan Rielly - T.J. Brodie
Simon Benoit - Jake McCabe
Mark Giordano - Timothy Liljegren
The Leafs played a perfect style of play against the Kings. They were patient with the heavy shot blocking and defence, and they did a lot of shot blocking of their own. They pushed into good scoring position in the second period and got rewarded.
Playing the Ducks is some other thing altogether. They are a chaotic and wild mix of high-level scoring skill, dull grinders, a fantastic second pair defence and a terrible first pair. Alex Killorn, miscast his entire career as a defensive player, is more of a mild offensive threat and does not belong on a top line. Trevor Zegras is having a terrible year and Frank Vatrano leads them in points. (That's actually Mason McTavish being good).
This could be a rout or it could be ugly, it's very hard to guess. But rout seems more likely.