Fresh off last night’s 5-2 shellacking at the hands of the red-hot Pittsburgh Penguins, the Toronto Maple Leafs return to the ACC to host the Philadelphia Flyers.
Although a loss to the Penguins – who extended their win streak to 11 – was not surprising in and of itself, the manner in which the Leafs’ players came out flat in the first 40 minutes certainly was. A strong effort from the opening faceoff will beÂ a must against the Flyers, who happen to be the NHL’s top-scoring team.
This will be the second meeting between these two this season … In Philadelphia on October 23rd, Flyers’ captain Mike Richards (1G, 2A) led his team to a 5-2 victory over the Leafs … Among Toronto forwards, Clarke MacArthur (10GP, 2G, 7A) and Nikolai Kulemin (8GP, 4G, 3A) have had the most success against Philadelphia over their careers … Leafs-killers on the Flyers include Danny Briere (33GP, 15G, 18A) and Jeff Carter (19GP, 10G, 4A) … Flyers are 5-2-3 in their last 10 … Leafs sport a 4-5-1 record in their last 10 … In a bit of an odd scheduling quirk, both teams played in Pennsylvania last night (Philadelphia at home, Toronto in Pittsburgh), but will face off in Toronto tonight.
News and Notes
- Despite losing their top goaltender (Michael Leighton) to back surgery before the season even began, the Flyers have rallied behind impressive rookie Sergei Bobrovsky and veteran Brian Boucher to maintain a tight grip on 4th in the East, and a mere 3 points out of 1st place.
- With Bobrovsky (14-4-3, 2.29, .922) having started the past 4 games for the Flyers, Boucher (3-3-2, 2.57, .901) is expected to get the call tonight.
- Despite their offensive prowess, the Flyers’ powerplay surprisingly ranks in the middle-of-the-pack, tied for 16th overall.
- The Philadelphia players are coming off a 5-4 shootout loss against San Jose yesterday, in which they blew a 4-1 lead at home.
- Post-lockout, the Flyers sport a 3-5-2 record (and have been outscored 30-22) in 10 visits to the Air Canada Centre.
- The news of the day is Dion Phaneuf‘s expected return to the lineup. A word of caution: it may not be wise to expect too much from him right away. He may be ready for contact and in game shape, but having missed 16 games his timing will take a while to return to where it needs to be.
- With the emergence of Kris Versteeg on the point, don’t be surprised to see Wilson insert Phaneuf up front on the powerplay at some point to create screens and wreak havoc on defenders.
- As of the time of this writing, no moves have been made in terms of clearing the blueline logjam. With now 8 defenseman on the roster, something will have to give. The quietly impressive Keith Aulie (originally called up to replace Phaneuf) will likely be sent back to the AHL to continue to develop his game.
- Lost in all the buzz surrounding Phaneuf’s return is that of goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Coming off a groin injury, which he subsequently re-tweaked, JSG returns just in time to relieve an overworked Jonas Gustavsson.
- Having started 9 of the past 10 games, during many of which the Leafs’ defenders were nowhere to be found, Gustavsson appeared understandably fatigued against Pittsburgh.Â A balanced time-share between he and the injury-prone Giguere the rest of the way – where possible – would be the ideal solution to keeping Giguere healthy, and Gustavsson from wearing down.
Update: Per James Mirtle, Komisarek, Gunnarsson and Rosehill will sit this one out. Lebda and Mitchell are in.
|Overall||17-7-5, 39 pts (4th East)||10-13-4, 24 pts (13th East)|
|Goals For||99 (1st)||61 (28th)|
|Goals Against||74 (t-11th)||81 (t-20th)|
|Powerplay||16.0% (t-16th)||15.8% (19th)|
|Penalty Killing||83.0% (t-14th)||76.2% (29th)|
|Faceoffs||49.4% (t-21st)||50.0% (16th)|
|PIM/GM||15.7 (6th)||11.5 (23rd)|
|Hits||611 (12th)||647 (7th)|
|Blocked Shots||479 (1st)||421 (7th)|
|Leading After 1st||10-1-0||4-0-3|
|Trailing After 1st||4-4-3||4-11-0|
|Leading After 2nd||14-0-2||7-0-2|
|Trailing After 2nd||1-5-2||1-12-2|
|Shootout||1-3, 3 goals||2-2, 4 goals|
Looking forward to your thoughts as always,