Toronto Maple Leafs @ Colorado Avalanche
07:00 PM at Ball Arena

The Leafs last game was away on February 22 against the Vegas Golden Knights, which Toronto won by a score of 7-3 in regulation. The Leafs have a record of 32-16-8 for a 0.643 Points %.

The Colorado Avalanche last played away on February 22 against the Detroit Red Wings. The Avalanche lost by a score of 2-1 in overtime, and their current league record is 35-18-5 for a 0.647 Points %.


Here we are again facing a team everyone knows is good who have a similar record to the Leafs. Are the Avalanche good, though? They are third in their division, tied in points today with the Winnipeg Jets. Is the +29 goal differential enough of a convincer?

It is often true that the order in which something happens – like wins and losses – influences opinions on what it means. Ups and downs easily become framed as trends, and the Avs are trending down. One of my favourite old-school, simple visualizations:

From Hockey Reference

The trend is bad, the Avs are losing the plot!

And now for the story that should be very familiar: The Avs have an Expected Goals % just over 51%, and virtually identical to the Leafs. Their Corsi is higher, so I asked NHL Edge who has the better possession numbers:

Colorado Avalanche at Even Strength
Toronto Maple Leafs at Even Strength

If the on-ice possession, shooting and quality of shooting is extremely similar, what's different? One caveat on the similarity. The Leafs get enough quality shooting that their Expected Goals For rate is better than the Avs. The temptation to say it's because they don't rely on lower quality depth players for offensive generation is too hard to resist, so I won't.

The Avs have a good power play and have scored over expected there. Their PK is mediocre, but their Save % shorthanded lifts it up a little.

The Avs are one of only eight teams in the league with an All-Situations Save % worse than the Leafs.

I'm sorry to tell you, these teams are twins. In the right light (special teams) you can just tell them apart.


Last Game (02/22) via Daily Faceoff

Jonathan Drouin - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Miles Wood - Ross Colton - Logan O'Connor
Artturi Lehkonen - Ryan Johansen - Zach Parise
Kurtis MacDermid - Chris Wagner - Joel Kiviranta

Devon Toews - Cale Makar
Samuel Girard - Josh Manson
Jack Johnson - Bowen Byram

Alexandar Georgiev - presumed starter
Justus Annunen


The Leafs, or the Toronto Lake Effect as we should call them now that they're just the Avalanche in nicer jerseys, are on the last game before they come home.

The only likely roster change is the Noah Gregor/Ryan Reaves swap.


David Alter via Daily Faceoff (last game)

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

T.J. Brodie - Timothy Liljegren
Morgan Rielly - William Lagesson
Simon Benoit - Jake McCabe

Ilya Samsonov - presumed starter
Martin Jones

The Game

So this game is a coinflip? Well yes, in a way because all sorts of unpredictable things will happen. But you play a game with an actual individual goalie, not your team average, and Georgiev has had a much better record than Samsonov. So models that create odds – like Moneypuck – are going to take that and the Avs home-ice advantage and come up with a more likely Avs win. But not by a lot.

If the Leafs had wanted a matchup that looked like a sure thing, not that there is such a thing, they should have laid over in Chicago, not Denver.

This also appears to be a next gen game, so prepare for black jerseys!

Lines will get confirmed later this afternoon, but since this is a 5pm local time start, they might both skip morning skate.