Toronto Maple Leafs @ Vegas Golden Knights
10:00 PM at T-Mobile Arena

The Leafs last game was last night against the Arizona Coyotes, which Toronto won by a score of 6-3 in regulation. The Leafs have a record of 31-16-8 for a 0.636 Points %.

The Vegas Golden Knights last played at home on February 20 against the Nashville Predators. The Golden Knights lost by a score of 5-3 in regulation, and their current league record is 32-18-6 for a 0.625 Points %.

Wait that can't be right. The Leafs, so bad that it will be such a relief when they fall out of a playoff spot and they can start trading players, have a better record than the reigning Cup champs?


What is up with Vegas? Shouldn't they have won every game? Aren't they a contender?

At the moment the answer is injuries of core players. Jack Eichel will be out for a short time more, and Mark Stone, who left their last game with an injury, will miss more time. Still it's not like they're a team that relies on the core for all their goals. A quick look at their stats will clearly show there isn't anyone with even 30 goals yet, so the percentage of the top three is only 38% not 52% like with the Leafs. The conclusion is obvious. Having your top players lose gamedays to injury is how you win.

Without Stone and Eichel, Vegas has sniper Jonathan Marchessault on the top line to harass Martin Jones tonight. Their depth is usually good, but they are also missing William Carrier and Brett Howden, two very good bottom six players. They recalled three AHLers to fill out the lineup.

Vegas and the Leafs don't have similar points by chance. They are extremely similar teams in shot-based results. Vegas gets slightly better goaltending and has slightly worse Expected Goals % and rate of Expected Goals for. Adin Hill is the best goalie in the NHL, but hasn't played much, and Logan Thompson's results bring Hill's gaudy numbers down quickly.

Vegas has much better looking defence than Toronto when expressed in text. But if you look at their Expected Goals against rate, they are 12th to the Leafs 20th, but don't stop at the ranked list. Look at the actual values: 2.6 to 2.68 per 60 minutes. Vegas's lower goals against is almost entirely the goalies.

Vegas, inexplicably, has a poor powerplay, and if I were coaching them, I'd try to fix that by the playoffs.


Daily Faceoff via Jesse Granger

Ivan Barbashev - Nicolas Roy - Jonathan Marchessault
Paul Cotter - William Karlsson - Keegan Kolesar
Brendan Brisson - Chandler Stephenson - Michael Amadio
Mason Morelli - Byron Froese - Sheldon Rempal

Alec Martinez - Alex Pietrangelo
Brayden McNabb - Shea Theodore
Nicolas Hague - Zach Whitecloud

Adin Hill - likely starter
Logan Thompson


Leafs get to play a rested team while coming off a (short) flight after the game yesterday.

They should get two fresh players on defence, and while they could use Reaves in place of Gregor, there's no good reason to. Keefe might like to give him a chance to play against his old team, though.


My projected lineup


So something more like:

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

TJ Brodie - Timothy Liljegren
Morgan Rielly - William Lagesson
Simon Benoit - Jake McCabe

Martin Jones – assumed starter
Ilya Samsonov

The Game

Vegas has brought out all the ex-Leafs they could find, including Byron Froese, so that should be fun.

Otherwise, this is a team missing a lot of pieces. Don't worry about fair play, Leafs, just go for it when they're hurting and win this one.