Game Day Thread: Leafs at Capitals (7 p.m., TSN)
It took the Leafs nearly 168 minutes to earn their first goal in three games in last night’s loss to the Ottawa Senators. It has been the story of the team in terms of points production as the club lost its fifth game in their last six outings. That said, the drive and scoring chances the team has created for themselves during that time made most of those games “close ones”. Tonight, with scoring hopefully back on their side, the .500 Leafs hope to erase their current three game losing streak by conquering the Capitals.
Alexander Ovechkin is tied with Phil Kessel and Clarke MacArthur in goals this year at seven apiece. Ovechkin scored two powerplay goals 12 seconds apart in the Capitals dismantling of the Calgary Flames on Saturday and has 4 points in his last two games, as well as a three game point streak. Clarke MacArthur had a goal and an assist last night against the Senators and hopes to create a point streak of his own.
Despite the goals situation, this very well could be a goaltender’s duel. With Giguere playing last night and the Leafs going back to back, Jonas Gustavsson is expected to get the start tonight. In three games this season, the Monster has posted a 0.921 SV% and a 2.31 GAA. On the other side of the rink, Michael Neuvirth has been a star as of late. In his last three outings, he has a 0.947 SV% and a 1.34 GAA. The Leafs, who have just re-discovered scoring, could be in for a significant challenge.
Last night’s loss also featured Dion Phaneuf suffering an extensive cut in his leg after a collision with Senators forward Peter Regin. Phaneuf was taken to hospital and examined and will be watching the Leafs from the press box for the next 4 weeks. Brett Lebda is expected to jump into the line-up in his absence.
10 Things to Note:
1. Kaberle has not registered a single point in his last 6 games.
2. Mikhail Grabovski has averaged just over 18 minutes of ice-time per game. He leads the team in the plus/minus category with a +7.
3. 14 Capitals players have scored a goal this season.
4. Washington has the 4th best penalty kill in the league (90.2% success rate).
5. Toronto averages the second lowest shots against in the league (26.3).
6. Toronto has not lost a game when scoring first this season.
7. Washington has the highest success rate in the league when trailing first (62.5%).
8. When outshot, the Capitals have won all of their games.
9. Toronto has the 7th best face-off winning percentage in the league at 52.4%.
10. Colton Orr averages just over 5 minutes of ice-time per game. He has two goals and is a +3.
I will be liveblogging tonight’s game on The Checking Line.com. Action gets underway at 6:45 PM EST. Be sure to join in on the discussion!
Signs Your Team is Digging a Hole – List
Micheal A. Aldred