As the Leafs prepare for the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight, it occurs to many fans that while the Leafs are looking strong as of late, the fate of their playoffs hopes certainly lives and dies on the team’s ability to win in extra time. While it does not show immediately, the 7 extra points from overtime losses would still have them in 14th in the East, but it would have them with 22 points on the year and within 3 points for a playoff position. Toronto has had plenty of practice playing 4 on 4 overtimes and participating in shootouts, it’s time to start capitalizing on these extra points.
Toronto comes into the game with 4 points in their last 3 games, and look to start gaining ground on their competition ahead of them. They need to find a way to finish games in regulation. The extra points they are giving up to teams ahead of them is going to be costly down the stretch.
Steven Stamkos (7 points in his last 6 games) and Martin St. Louis (6 points during a 4 game points streak) are the hot hands coming into the game for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tampa Bay have gone 3-1-2 in their last 6 games, and Antero Niittymaki (4-0-3 in last 7 games) has not lost in regulation in his last 7 starts. During that time, he has posted a 1.76 GAA and a 0.945 SV%.
Niklas Hagman has a two game goal streak on the line, and has 3 goals in his last 4 outings. Matt Stajan has 7 points in his last 6 games and looks to aid Toronto’s offense tonight. Phil Kessel is on somewhat of a cold streak with just 1 point in his last 3 games, but he helped lead the charge in opening the scoring for the Leafs in their matchup with the Islanders on Monday night.
Joey MacDonald will back up Jonas Gustavsson tonight. Gustavsson has gone 0-1-2 in his last three games (though one of those loses is due to Toskala pulling himself) and in that time has posted a 5.28 GAA and a 0.870 SV%. His save percentage is noted as a cold streak despite being 0.005% better than Toskala’s save percentage on the year.
Christian Hanson was called up for tonight’s game to replace the 6 week injury to John Mitchell. He will skate alongside Niklas Hagman and Mikhail Grabovski.
Powerplay: TOR 8th (22.7%), TBL 23rd (17.7%)
Penalty Kill: TOR 29th (74.2%), TBL 25th (76.7%)
Faceoff % â€“ TOR 16th (49.8%), TBL 10th (51.1%)
Average Shots For: TOR 1st (34.7), TBL 27th (27.4)
Average Shots Against: TOR 19th (30.5), TBL 23rd (31.5)
Average Goals For: TOR 23rd (2.54), TBL 21st (2.62)
Average Goals Against: TOR 30th (3.64), TBL 12th (2.76)
5 on 5 Goals For/Against Ratio: TOR 29th (0.73), TBL 16th (1.00)
The Colorado Avalanche have placed speedy forward TJ Hensick on waivers. Click here to see the kid’s speed.
Micheal A. Aldred