Tampa Bay Lightning @ Toronto Maple Leafs
07:00 PM at Scotiabank Arena
Watch on: NHLN, TVAS, SN, BSSUN
The Leafs last game was at home on November 4 against the Buffalo Sabres, which Toronto lost by a score of 6-4. The Leafs have a record of 5-4-2 so far.
The Tampa Bay Lightning last played an away game on November 4 against the Ottawa Senators. The Lightning won by a score of 6-4, and their current league record is 5-3-3.
The blue teams in the Atlantic are struggling to get wins.
Hockey is, as you know, stupid. And the stupid is always thick on the ground this early in the year. The Lightning have been extremely mediocre, and have been coasting to a just barely acceptable win/loss record on the strength of their talented shooters. Did you know the top four goal-scorers on the Lighting have 23 goals and the entire rest of the team has 17!!! Stop the presses. It's really the Kucherov show that's holding the Lightning's heads above water.
The really stupid part, though is that with their "random guys from Swedish hockey" goalie tandem, they've gotten better than average results. And you might think they've been keeping the shots down, keeping the quality easy for these guys, and you would be absolutely wrong. The Lightning have been ever so slightly worse than the Leafs in that department.
Gabby Shirley via Daily Faceoff
Brandon Hagel - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
Steven Stamkos - Nick Paul - Conor Sheary
Alex Barre-Boulet - Anthony Cirelli - Michael Eyssimont
Tanner Jeannot - Luke Glendening - Austin Watson
Victor Hedman - Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev - Darren Raddysh
Calvin de Haan - Zach Bogosian
Jonas Johansson - likely starter
Yesterday when we, or at least I, were busy being depressed about the Leafs and their bad, horrible, no-good play, Sheldon Keefe tried out some new lines at practice. He has to. He is returning results significantly worse than what got Mike Babcock fired. He can't do the "grind it out, guys, I've tried nothing and I'm all out of ideas" that Babcock stubbornly stuck with.
The defence is an open question since Jake McCabe practiced and took part in the optional skate today, but is still on IR, and may not be ready to jump right back in a game. If he is, it will be McCabe-Klingberg, the revenge tour.
Okay, yeah, it's obvious that a lot of the issues are decision making. My question is, what indication is there that Klingberg can improve there.
Up front, Matt Knies is exempted from trying to drive his own line which I think is a good thing. Max Domi at centre seemed like an inevitability given the roster, so by all means, try it now, not in training camp when we did that Nylander dance instead. I assume Robertson is taking the spot held yesterday by Holmberg. Robertson has been scoring up a storm in the AHL, and I predict the broadcast talking points will all be about depth scoring, and will ignore all the real problems like the one articulated above by Keefe.
Matt Knies - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner
Tyler Bertuzzi - John Tavares - William Nylander
Nick Robertson - Max Domi - Calle Järnkrok
Noah Gregor - David Kämpf - Ryan Reaves
Morgan Rielly - TJ Brodie
Jake McCabe or Mark Giordano - John Klingberg
William Lagesson - Mark Giordano or Benoit/Lajoie
Joe Woll - likely starter
An underperforming blue and white team is going to get their sixth win.
So far, the Lightning are a titch better overall than the Leafs. The Leafs are converging on zero – league average in other words – in all areas to the extent they may form a quantum singularity and I think then we either travel in time or power a Romulan ship. The Lightning have a little shooting skill/luck (the Leafs have none) and their mysterious results from Johansson, otherwise they're very, very average as well.
Hockey is stupid, and I guess that's why they call it the blues.