Toronto Maple Leafs @ Vancouver Canucks
07:00 PM at Rogers Arena
Watch on: SN

Note: even though this game has a 7 pm Eastern start, it is not the main HNIC game, and is not on CBC, GEM or City TV.

The Leafs last game was January 18 against the Calgary Flames, which Toronto won by a score of 4-3 in regulation. The Leafs have a record of 22-13-8 for a 0.605 Points %.

The Vancouver Canucks last played at home on January 18 against the Arizona Coyotes. The Canucks won by a score of 2-1 in regulation, and their current league record is 30-11-4 for a 0.711 Points %.


The Canucks locked up a playoff spot in about the first three weeks of the season. Barring a meteor strike, they're in, and likely first in the Pacific. Considering their barely .500 season last year and more major player subtractions than additions, it's fair to ask if there's a little percentage luck goosing those wins. Because otherwise, it's the biggest new-coach bounce in history.

The Canucks are in a tie with the Leafs and the Bruins in the 50-52 percent range for Corsi and Expected Goals at five-on-five. This is the very definition of mediocre.

What the Canucks add to that is the fifth best team Save % of .927 and a league-leading Shooting % of 11.9 . Neither number is truly outrageous and could continue. Some team usually hits around 11% in shooting every year. However, when you're that high up, you're much more likely to come down than stay there.

The Canucks have a good power play where they've been scoring a little under expected. Their shorthanded Save % is not as good as their five-on-five, and is only 11th in the league behind the 15th best Expected Goals Against.

In general, the Canucks have a good offence with a lot of shooting skill and even more luck backed by a great goalie season. I say skill in shooting because Elias Pettersson's 19% is high for him, but not by much. His five-on-five number is within his career norms. I say luck because Dakota Joshua's 12 goals on a 23% shooting success rate is not a sudden star being discovered. Playing him on line two is running the "hot hand".

The Canucks eye-test as a great team because they score a lot of goals, most in the NHL, and when you're doing that, it doesn't matter how you got them, just that you did. "There is no deserve in hockey" cuts both ways.


Last Game (01/15) via Daily Faceoff subject to change, but with the early start time, there won't be a full morning skate

Elias Pettersson - J.T. Miller - Brock Boeser
Dakota Joshua - Teddy Blueger - Conor Garland
Ilya Mikheyev - Pius Suter - Andrei Kuzmenko
Nils Hoglander - Nils Aman - Sam Lafferty

Quinn Hughes - Filip Hronek
Carson Soucy - Tyler Myers
Nikita Zadorov - Ian Cole

Thatcher Demko - it's the Leafs, why would they play any other goalie?
Casey DeSmith


The Leafs are going with the same lineup as the last game, with the same players, Ryan Reaves, Conor Timmins and Nick Robertson, scratched. Tyler Bertuzzi and Matt Knies have been swapped, so the line that looked like a good third line last game: Knies - David Kämpf - Calle Järnkrok can easily be played if the initial format doesn't work.

There is no rule or natural law that the coach is supposed to keep to the lineup card. Bertuzzi had the second most minutes at five-on-five in the last game to Auston Matthews. And while there's often a gap between Matthews and Mitch Marner and the rest of the top six, they all played about the same.


Yesterday's practice lines:

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
Simon Benoit - Jake McCabe
Mark Giordano - Timothy Liljegren

Martin Jones - starter
Ilya Samsonov

The Game

Most people watching a hockey game involving their team look at the entire game entirely from the POV of their players. It's like a bad novel where only the protagonist has any agency, and the rest of the characters don't really seem like people, just props to his story.

Last game the Leafs were OMG so bad, and then suddenly they were great. And then bad, and then they won even though they blew the lead. It was hard to fathom how one team can be cold, then boil over and then go cold, almost like the flame under the pot wasn't constant.

I personally want the Leafs to play top-notch hockey all game tonight, just as if there is no opponent. If they do that, they'll win 7-0, which I really would enjoy because no one yowls like Canucks fans, and dousing the hot hand with a nice bucket of cold water from Gambler's Fallacy Inc. is always fun.