Toronto Maple Leafs vs Calgary Flames
7:00 PM at Scotiabank Arena
Watch on: TVAS, SNW, TSN4
(note, game is only on SNW outside the Leafs region)
The Leafs last game was horrible. The Flames beat the Preds in their last outing.
Tonight, Brad's ex is coming over to hang with his new partner. What could possibly go wrong?
Huberdeau benched, Kadri can't score, contract talks called off – what a mess. What's really going on here?
It's actually a fairly common pattern for a team that is playing the wrong way to win. They aren't bad, lazy, not trying, stupid, or anything else, they're just never going to win much the way they play in the offensive zone.
At five-on-five, the Flames are ninth in the NHL in Corsi %, but 16th in Expected Goals, both numbers a lot higher than the Leafs can boast. Their pace of shots (all shots, so Corsi) is good both for and against. They aren't league leading, but they should be a top 10 team. Their Expected Goals both for and against are worse. Oh, and they have a terrible team shooting %, and the worst team save % in the NHL.
Which is how they have a goal differential of 19 for and 30 against. Yikes on a stick. (The Leafs are 26-30 at five-on-five, so don't feel too smug.)
The Flames have an okay-ish power play which they are underperforming in actual scoring. Weirdly their goaltending shorthanded has been spectacular, third best in the NHL.
What's the deal? The Flames have gone from a team with heavy shooting from everywhere but particularly the mid-to-high slot, to never shooting from the slot, and concentrating all fire from the perimeter. They shoot constantly from the left side, not quite at the point, but maybe one or two strides in. It looks remarkably like the high-paced futility that the Leafs were putting out right before Babcock was fired.
Their defence has been allowing too much right at the net, but not in horrible amounts like some other team I could name.
So, bad shot location produces bad shooting %, bad shooting % produces frustration, frustration makes you stupid, stupid makes you shoot without thinking. It's not the offensive cycle you want, but it's what they have.
Pat Steinberg via Daily Faceoff
Jonathan Huberdeau - Elias Lindholm - Andrew Mangiapane
Connor Zary - Nazem Kadri - Yegor Sharangovich
Martin Pospisil - Mikael Backlund - Blake Coleman
A.J. Greer - Dillon Dube - Walker Duehr
MacKenzie Weegar - Rasmus Andersson
Noah Hanifin - Chris Tanev
Nikita Zadorov - Nick DeSimone
Jacob Markstrom - likely starter
The Leafs are ... what to say? I could tell you how bad their results have been and have some wag call me James Tanner again, but the non waggish seem to grasp the situation just fine.
You know the score, literally. The Leafs have been lucky to get some of their wins, and the only thing keeping this current situation from blowing up bigger is the standings. But they've slipped to fifth place by Points % and are at .538. The fuse is lit.
The bright side is the new third line that actually functions! I think it's because no one is asking either Max Domi or Nick Robertson to think much. I was privately calling this line the Spiderman Meme Line when Robertson was called up because these two guys are very, very much alike. Put them together, ask them to skate fast, give-and-go, and don't try anything else, and boom – goals.
Otherwise, I would imagine every single member of the team is looking forward to their coming days off.
These are the lines with a 12/6 format. If the Leafs go 11/7, it will be Klingberg in, Reaves out, and all this assumes McCabe is really ready to return today.
Mark Masters via Daily Faceoff
Matthew Knies - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner
Tyler Bertuzzi - John Tavares - William Nylander
Nicholas Robertson - Max Domi - Calle Jarnkrok
Noah Gregor - David Kampf - Ryan Reaves
Morgan Rielly - T.J. Brodie
Mark Giordano - Jake McCabe
Simon Benoit - William Lagesson
Joe Woll - confirmed starter
Soooo, everyone is frustrated and unhappy on both teams. I'm sure that won't cause anyone to lose track of the hockey and start engaging in some emotional outbursts. Not in the NHL.
Go Leafs Go. Try to score a little before the line brawl, okay?