New Jersey Devils @ Toronto Maple Leafs - Game 71
07:30 PM at Scotiabank Arena
Watch on: ESPN+, HULU, TSN4

The Leafs last game was away on March 24 against the Carolina Hurricanes, which Toronto lost by a score of 2-1 in regulation. The Leafs have a record of 40-21-9 for a 0.636 Points %.

The New Jersey Devils last played away on March 24 against the New York Islanders. The Devils won by a score of 4-0 in regulation, and their current league record is 35-33-4 for a 0.514 Points %.


The Leafs play the Devils three times in the final 11 games, so suddenly we need to know who this team is. Obviously, as a team in the Metro not named Rangers or Hurricanes, the Devils have spent the season trying very hard not to make the playoffs. They've done very well at that.

The Devils are eleventh in the Eastern Conference by Points %, and are seven points below the Flyers who are tenaciously holding onto third place in the Metro. The Devils are done. Do they believe they're done? Who knows. They tried the firing of the coach just before the deadline, but that's not been a magic solution to their problems.

In the simplest terms, they have one problem. They allow too many goals against and are the third worst at that in the east, down in the dregs with Columbus and Ottawa. So who done it – the goalies, the defence or the team systems? In all-situations, the Devils have the second worst Save % behind only Ottawa. Vitek Vanacek, who has played 32 games for New Jersey is neck-and-neck with Joonas Korppisalo for worst goalie in the NHL who actually gets starts. Ilya Samsonov has been steadily climbing away from these two as he comes back from wherever it was he went.

All the other goalies the Devils have tried have been nearly as bad. That is either really bad luck, or it's not just the guys in net. Nonetheless, at the deadline, the Devils completely switched up the netminders, acquiring Kaapo Kahkonen and Jake Allen. Allen has five games for the Devils so far and has done very well with a big and uncharacteristic 2.9 Goals Saves over Expected. Kahkonen has three games played, and he's been good too, with 1.77 GSAX.

It really does seem like the Devils just had a big crowd of goalies all in a performance trough at the same time. No idea why they waited until it was too late to make the trades, but their Expected Goals and Corsi numbers are actually very good. Their power play is blah, but if they get good goaltending, they're a team who you'd expect to see in the playoffs even with their major injuries.

I think they should have fired the GM.


Last Game (03/24) via Daily Faceoff

Timo Meier - Nico Hischier - Jesper Bratt
Jack Hughes - Erik Haula - Alexander Holtz
Ondrej Palat - Tomas Nosek - Dawson Mercer
Maxwell Willman - Chris Tierney - Santeri Hatakka

Kevin Bahl - John Marino
Luke Hughes - Nick DeSimone
Brendan Smith - Simon Nemec

Jake Allen
Kaapo Kahkonen


So is Ilya Samsonov hurt or not? At first he was out of the game, then Sheldon Keefe said it wasn't what it looked like, but then he said he wasn't 100%. Today Samsonov is on the ice at morning skate like none of that happened.

In fascinating news, Matt Murray participated in skate for the first time. Prior to now he'd been working on the ice with staff only.

In heartening news, Mitch Marner is on the ice in front of the media, although he has been skating before today. He has been upgraded to day-to-day.

Joel Edmundson is also day-to-day and won't play this week, likely, but Morgan Rielly is a gametime decision for tonight with an undisclosed injury.


From Morning Skate with no Rielly:

Tyler Bertuzzi - Auston Matthews - Max Domi
Bobby McMann - John Tavares - William Nylander
Matthew Knies - Pontus Holmberg - Nicholas Robertson
Connor Dewar - David Kämpf - Noah Gregor

Jake McCabe - Timothy Liljegren
T.J. Brodie - Ilya Lyubushkin
Simon Benoit - Conor Timmins

Joe Woll - confirmed starter
Ilya Samsonov
Martin Jones

The Game

A tired Leafs team fell farther and farther behind the surging Hurricanes in the most recent game, but managed one goal. The problem was the same one every team has against Carolina – possession is hard to achieve and maintain.

The numbers say the Devils are pretty good at hogging the puck, but their defence is nothing at all like the Hurricanes' black hole of no shots allowed. The Leafs can get good offensive pressure against the Devils and even with the big renovation in net, they are definitely a beatable team.

Note the start time, and Go Leafs Go!