Toronto Maple Leafs @ Pittsburgh Penguins
07:00 PM at PPG Paints Arena
Watch on: CBC, TVAS, SN, CITY, NHLN, SN-PIT
The Leafs last played yesterday at 2 pm on the road vs the Chicago Blackhawks and lost in overtime. Their record is 10-5-3 with a points % of .639.
The Penguins last played yesterday at 6 pm on the road vs the Buffalo Sabres. They lost 3-2 in regulation. Their record is 9-10-0 with a points % of .474.
You know how, at this time of the year, you have to go to some family party and your cousin you never see is there, and you tell each other lies about how your life is going, while you each try to suss out the reality underneath? Is that an expensive watch he's got, will he notice your shoes are 10 years old. Has he got thinner? Are you that grey?
That's the Penguins. Not necessarily what they appear to be on the surface, and not as familiar to us as we think they are. The expensive watch peeking out of a threadbare sleeve is their +10 goal differential with a record under .500. That goal differential is ninth in the league and their Points % is 23rd.
The Penguins (at five-on-five) are sixth in Expected Goals % and Goals For %. Their team Save % is sixth, and their Shooting % is 20th. If they had a touch of shooting luck they'd be even better at five-on-five. This is a team that should be well up in the Metro and top 10 in the NHL.
Their power play is second best by Expected Goals rate, and their PK is fourth best, with a slightly less excellent Save % shorthanded.
What the hell is going on here? Two things. The goal differential is padded out by an 10-2 win over the Sharks, and the rest of the time, most of their games are very close. One- and two-goal games that they've lost more often than they should have. Their goal-scoring has dried up lately as well. But if the Penguins get to 1-1 or 2-2 in a game, they almost always lose it. But there is no indication that they play badly when tied. This seems very random event to me.
You decide, which is real: the threadbare sleeve, or the glimpse of the bling.
The team has recalled Jensen Harkins, so he may draw in for someone on the bottom six. Bryan Rust has been out for a few games and is day-to-day, making their top line, a lot less powerful.
Pittsburgh Penguins via Daily Faceoff from yesterday's game.
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Drew O'Connor
Reilly Smith - Evgeni Malkin - Alex Nylander
Radim Zohorna - Lars Eller - Vinnie Hinostroza
Matthew Nieto - Noel Acciari - Jeff Carter
Ryan Graves - Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson - Erik Karlsson
Ryan Shea - John Ludvig
Tristan Jarry - likely starter
The Leafs are the guy at that family party with a flashy suit, a faintly false air of humility, and a lot of stories about how great things are at Slick Willy Styles Inc. But what's hiding under that surface?
The team that wrapped a game up in a bow and gave it to Chicago springs to mind. The Leafs are 18th and 20th in Expected Goals and Goals percentages at five-on-five. Their power play and penalty kill are ninth and 14th using the same measures as above. Their goaltending, naturally makes all of this worse. Team Save % is currently 22nd at five-on-five.
The goal differential at +2 so far is a gift considering how they are below average everywhere but on special teams. At five-on-five they are -2 and 15 of their goals have come on the power play. They aren't the Lightning – a story for another day – who are just a power play and nothing else. But they need that special teams boost to win games.
Toronto has played a lot of close games – more than the Penguins – but when they get to 1-1 or 2-2, they win most of them, a lot of them in overtime. They have played really badly when up one so far this season, which is how they end up tied so much. Something everyone has noticed, but it doesn't seem random, it seems self-inflicted.
Last Game (11/24) via Daily Faceoff
Matthew Knies - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner
Tyler Bertuzzi - John Tavares - William Nylander
Nicholas Robertson - Max Domi - Calle Järnkrok
Noah Gregor - David Kämpf - Ryan Reaves or Bobby McMann?
Morgan Rielly - T.J. Brodie
Mark Giordano - Jake McCabe
William Lagesson - Conor Timmins
Joe Woll - confirmed starter
Dubas, Dubas, Dubas, Dubas, Dubas, Dubas, Karlsson, genius signing. There, you can watch the game on mute now, you've heard the commentary.
Two tired teams, the younger one should win, right?
Go Leafs Go!