Toronto Maple Leafs @ Pittsburgh Penguins
07:00 PM at PPG Paints Arena
Watch on: TVAS, ATTSN-PT, TSN4
Opponent’s Site: PensBurgh
The Leafs last game was at home on November 12 against the Vancouver Canucks, which Toronto won by a score of 3-2. The Leafs have a record of 8-5-3 so far.
The Pittsburgh Penguins last played an away game on November 12 against the Montréal Canadiens. The Penguins lost by a score of 5-4, and their current league record is 6-6-3.
Didn’t we just play them? Ah, we did, and they won in a game where the Leafs played fairly well, just not exactly Leafs-typical circa 2021, while Evgeni Malkin was extraordinarily irritating.
Toronto vs Pittsburgh
|59.4 - 10th||Points % - Ranking||50.0 - 21st|
|2.813 - 23rd||Goals/Game - Ranking||3.6 - 7th|
|2.75 - 9th||Goals Against/Game - Ranking||3.467 - 23rd|
|26.4 - 6th||Power Play% - Ranking||19.2 - 24th|
|76.4 - 21st||Penalty Kill% - Ranking||75.5 - 24th|
|9 - 21st||Team Sh% - Ranking||10.7 - 9th|
|0.899 - 16th||Team Sv% - Ranking||0.899 - 15th|
|John Tavares - 8||Most Goals (NST)||Jake Guentzel - 8|
|Mitchell Marner - 18||Most Points (NST)||Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby - 16|
|Michael Bunting - 26||Most PIM (NST)||Evgeni Malkin, Jeff Petry - 14|
|Morgan Rielly - 23.31||TOI Leader (NST)||Kris Letang - 23.88|
The Penguins aren’t doing well overall this season. They score more than the Leafs — most teams do — they also allow a lot more — most teams do as well. Their special teams have been misfiring and the trouble is at least in part their very average save %. However, you’ll notice the Leafs have the same value in that stat and their ranked lower because of the tyranny of the alphabet. It’s almost like save % can’t really tell you if the team is allowing more goals than they should...
Casey DeSmith has been okay so far by Goals Saved Over Expected. Better than Erik Källgren, nowhere near Ilya Samsonov’s level. Tristan Jarry has been bad.
The main weakness of the Penguins is that they’re defensively a little slack, bad on the PK and their offence is a bit tepid considering the quality of their top six. Their power play is better than the success % would have you believe, but not what it should be.
Lines are from yesterday, and there may be some gametime decisions.
Source: Taylor Haase via Daily Faceoff
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Rickard Rakell
Brock McGinn - Jeff Carter - Danton Heinen
Kasperi Kapanen - Ryan Poehling - Josh Archibald
Marcus Pettersson - Kris Letang
Pierre-Olivier Joseph - Jeff Petry
Brian Dumoulin - Jan Rutta
Casey DeSmith - confirmed starter
What of the Leafs? Brodie is out, Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner are split up and the depth is undergoing an overhaul. Matt Murray is set to play his second game of the season, facing his old team in the barn he won a lot of games in.
The real story is the sorry state of the defence corps with TJ Brodie out of action. Jordie Benn, who was legitimately good vs the Canucks, is on the top pair, and the very successful AHL pair of Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren are together on the third pair. Mark Giordano moves up to play with Justin Holl.
Michael Bunting - Auston Matthews - William Nylander
Alex Kerfoot - John Tavares - Mitch Marner
Pierre Engvall - Pontus Holmberg -Calle Järnkrok
Zach Aston-Reese - David Kämpf - Denis Malgin
Morgan Rielly - Jordie Benn
Mark Giordano - Justin Holl
Rasmus Sandin - Timothy Liljegren
Matt Murray - confirmed starter
The Leafs have to play better than they did a few days ago against the Penguins, and sustain it for a full game as well. Will this version of the third line actually work? Who knows, but it’s a reasonable try at it. There’s not much else that can be done with the defence until Brodie is back, but his contributions can’t be overstated. He is the only genuinely defensively gifted defenceman on the team.
Kyle Dubas said something yesterday about how this sort of struggle shows you what the people around, who you think you know well, are really made of. I think he was referencing Sandin and Liljegren. The famous door Ray Ferraro likes to talk about is wide, wide open. Time to walk through it, guys. Same goes for Holmberg, as well.