Preview and GDT: Avalanche at Maple Leafs (7 p.m., TSN)

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Team Records: Leafs – 3-0-0 vs. Avalanche – 2-0-0
2012-13 Season Series: Two teams haven’t met since October 17, 2011.
Key Matchup: Patrick Roy vs. ACC stanchions
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Live MLHS Pregame Show:

News and Notes:

Should the Leafs trade Jake Gardiner? James Mirtle and Michael Traikos say the Leafs should hold onto the young defender.

Phil Kessel can’t live without his dog, Stella.

Trevor Smith is making his Leafs debut tonight.

Jay McClement AKA Panty Magnet, may be out of tonight’s game as his wife is in labour.

Speaking of pregnancies, Nick Backstrom just had a kid as well. Patrick Sharp’s wife is expecting too. The lockout ended nine months ago, in case you were wondering.

Pregame Thoughts – Possession, Bernier, and Rielly:

The Leafs first encounter with a Western Conference opponent since 2011-12 comes in the form of an early season battle of two undefeated teams.

Patrick Roy’s Colorado Avalanche present the challenge of a lot of skill and speed up front, much as the Leafs do. One could reasonably foresee this tilt developing into a game of traded chances. Both teams are shooting the lights out (very) early while allowing over 30 shots a game. Varlamov has been up to the challenge for the Avs, as he’s allowed only one goal in each of the two wins.

While there has has been discussion stemming from my post on Sunday morning that advanced statistics are an unnecessary component to MLHS analysis, there is always room for different perspective as I see it. Corsi and Fenwick have their warts, but they have grown beyond guesswork to the point where I feel comfortable using it as a way to dig into the game’s overall flow from a possession perspective. Using Corsi and Fenwick isn’t a criticism against the Leafs on my part, it’s just another tool to see how the Leafs are performing at the possession level – which is an important layer of context and analysis.

The Leafs haven’t even hit their stride yet. The team has been lucky in that Bernier has rose to the occasion to steal two games the team did not deserve to win. When the team does hit their stride, I would venture that we have a lot to be excited about.

Right now, the Leafs are 27th overall in close situations at the possession level. At even strength over 131 minutes through three games, the Leafs have scored 6 goals and given up 5. In close situation with over 94 minutes played, the team is underperforming at 4 goals for, 5 goals against. At some point, the team is going to have to start playing better at the even strength level – special teams are important, but they cannot and should not be the main source of offense or defense.

On that note, the Leafs may be without all of Jay McClement, Mark Fraser and Nikolai Kulemin tonight, and would be wise to avoid the penalty box as much as possible knowing they’re without three of their best PK personnel. McClement was on the ice for over 9 minutes worth of penalty killing in the Flyers game alone.

In net, Jonathan Bernier is starting tonight. He has only 40 minutes played against Colorado in his career, so we don’t have enough of a sample size to guess how he will do. Given how he has played so far this season, we should expect to see him play well again tonight.

Yesterday, we got wind that Morgan Rielly was playing on Dion Phaneuf’s left in practise. Today, it appears that the team will roll out the same pairings from Saturday night. I should point out that Rielly played fantastically after the first period – he made smart passes, good breakouts, and gained the blue line a number of times, creating scoring chances. Tonight will be his second game, so I am hoping the jitters are just about gone for him – he’s got a long way to go to show that he deserves to be in the NHL this year, but I think he’s safe. He’s not going to learn NHL defense at the WHL level; not with the offensive skills that he has.

Projected Lineups:

Maple Leafs Lines vs. Colorado Avalanche

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Colorado Avalanche Lineups, Oct. 8th, 2013
Left WingCenterRight Wing
JvRBozakKessel
LupulKadriAshton
RaymondBollandBodie
DevaneSmithOrr
Left DefenseRight Defense
PhaneufGunnarsson
RiellyFranson
GardinerRanger
Goalies
Bernier
Reimer

Colorado Avalanche Lines vs. Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Colorado Avalanche Lineups, Oct. 8th, 2013
Left WingCenterRight Wing
LandeskogStastnyTanguay
O'RiellyDucheneDownie
McGinnMacKinnonParenteau
McLeodMitchellBordeleau
Left DefenseRight Defense
HejdaJohnson
BarrieGuenin
SarichBenoit
Goalies
Varlamov
Giguere
  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    Been away, but saw that Gardiner rumours have heated up. 
    What’s the rampant speculation now?

  • Airfreshener

    DeclanK as far as I know its all based off of what Friedman said and the other thread exploded with proposals etc..

  • mORRganRielly

    DeclanK Howard Berger had a bad job interview today, so he took to Twitter to vent about Gardiner.

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    mORRganRielly DeclanK I’ll have to go and see this twitter stuff.

  • wendelsway1

    Thanks MR….love the key matchup….LOL  Leafs win 4-2….GO LEAFS GO!!!

  • Dan39

    Oh God, more stats Ughhhh. And it’s the same stats as before – the ones the Leafs management don’t use. The ones that predicted a regression that just isn’t happening. Can’t we move on?

  • Dan39

    wendelsway1 Come on, give us 5 or 6 goals at least!

  • wendelsway1

    Dan39 wendelsway1 Sorry….I’m only going by what my crystal ball is telling me. :)

  • Dan39

    So Kadri back to the second line? Interesting. Wonder how long it will last. 
    Looking forward to seeing MacKinnon, too.

  • mcloki

    CanuckUKinToronto Love the new avatar lol

  • Mind Bomb

    Hahaha Nice banner MC :) we can Call Orr the Dentist :)))

  • ConnorCrisp

    Awesome banner! And what’s up with McClement? Why is he not playing?

  • Bring the Cup Home

    not having McClement will hurt us.  bernier will need to kill the penalties himself.

  • wendelsway1

    ConnorCrisp His wife’s in labour

  • wendelsway1

    Mind Bomb  x 2  :)

  • mORRganRielly

    Dan39 We’re already losing at even strength level, so it’s been pretty accurate thus far.

  • Dan39

    Wonder who draws the short straw and get’s Bordeleau? 

    Orr
    Devane
    Ashton 
    vs
    Bords
    McLeod
    McGinn

  • wiski

    https://twitter.com/Matt9Duchenehttps://twitter.com/Matt9Duchene/status/387654889297289216
    Lookin fwd to playin in front of friends and family tonight in Toronto! Even if some of my buds are still cheering for the Leafs https://twitter.com/search?q=%23bushleague&src=hash

  • Pent_House

    advanced stats in a GDT?

  • Pent_House

    mORRganRielly Dan39 zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • mORRganRielly

    Pent_House mORRganRielly Dan39 Then don’t read it.  It’s not complicated.

  • Jordan29

    This game has been talked about in town allllllllll day with radio stations, gas stations, at work, everywhere because its Mackinnons first game in Toronto. The usually leaf hate was ripe and well so MANNNNNNNNNN we need a win tonight so I can rip everyone about it. Radio guy aid a few mins ago “Mackinnon will get his first chance to tear up the leafs” I wanted to hit him

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Pent_HouseI’m not a big Corsi/Fenwick guy, but this isn’t really an advanced stat
    At even strength over 131 minutes through three games, the Leafs have
    scored 6 goals and given up 5. In close situation with over 94 minutes
    played, the team is underperforming at 4 goals for, 5 goals against
    It’s tallying goals for and against at 5 on 5.

  • Dan39

    mORRganRielly Pent_House Dan39 This is constructive criticism you’re getting right now ; )

  • Pent_House

    Alec Brownscombe Pent_House yea I understand I just thought it was an odd place to slip that in. Seems appropriate in a more analytical article as opposed to GDT.

  • Pent_House

    Dan39 Ashton isn’t scraping, full cage

  • Black_Hawk

    Jordan29 Makinnon will get a goal though b/c everyone gets there 1st goal against the leafs but thats fine. We’ll show the those guys though in the end.

  • Dan39

    Pent_House Dan39 Good point, high time Bodie stepped up.

  • Aaron Chan

    Pent_House Alec Brownscombe Chris is just trying to point out that the Leafs need to be better 5v5. No harm, no foul in backing up your assertion.

  • Dangle_My_Berries

    Gotta come out skating and hitting tonight. Wouldnt mind kadri flattening Duchene

  • mcloki

    Aaron Chan Pent_House Alec Brownscombe we have won every game.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    mcloki Aaron Chan Pent_House Alec Brownscombe doesn’t mean the team’s been anything close to perfect, mc. I doubt Carlyle or the players would ever suggest that either.

  • Black_Hawk

    shit mcclement is not going to play?

  • wendelsway1

    Dangle_My_Berries If Kadri doesn’t………Bolland will.

  • Dangle_My_Berries

    Weve gotten away from the physical game so far this season, thats where komarov was valuable, really dragged the other boys into the rough stuff. Hope Clarkson can do the same when hes back from purgatory

  • mcloki

    Alec Brownscombe mcloki Aaron Chan Pent_House Hockey’s not about being perfect, or combined stats. It’s just about 60 minutes of fight till someone takes 2 points. 
    Cujo stopped 60 shots but Gilmour scored 1 goal and who is remembered?

  • Dangle_My_Berries

    DAMN U THE GIFT of LIFE!

  • Jmessih

    CanuckUKinToronto Dan39 Pent_House Ashton said he may not use the cage tonight, it should come off soon apparently.

  • Zep2

    Thanks for the blog Morgan. I dont know what ” close situations ” at even strength  indicates. That we are at 27 th is not good Im sure.
    Last year we were a + 9 in goals at even strength. I think that put us solidly in the top 16.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    mcloki Alec Brownscombe Aaron Chan Pent_House Regardless of being 3-0, a team has to work on weak areas of their play if they expect to be successful over 82 games

  • Aaron Chan

    mcloki Aaron Chan Pent_House Alec Brownscombe Sure but we can’t keep relying on special teams as heavily. If you take a look at 5v5 close situations (what Chris was talking about) you’ll see teams like Boston, LA, Detroit, and Chicago in the top-5. Leafs have great special teams, that is without a doubt, but if we want to take it to the next level and have more sustainable success, 5v5 performance has to improve.

  • Jmessih

    Dangle_My_Berries Yup Karmorov was huge in that department! I miss the guy.

  • Aaron Chan

    Dan39 mORRganRielly Pent_House Come on guys. No specific Corsi% or Fenwick% was cited in this pregame, which hardly makes it an advanced stats blurb.

  • mcloki

    Alec Brownscombe mcloki Aaron Chan Pent_House All teams have weak areas. But the areas of weakness and the degree of weakness is way different than 3 years ago. Way way different.

  • Aaron Chan

    mcloki Alec Brownscombe Aaron Chan Pent_House We’re leagues better than 3 years ago, that’s not even up for debate.

  • leafmealone

    Zep2 “close situations” refers to game time when the score is either tied or there is a one goal lead held by either team. It is used to try and remove any potential skewing of data by teams sitting back in a blowout.

  • Aaron Chan

    leafmealone Zep2 that “skewing of data” is called score effects, just in case you were wondering :)

  • Zep2

    leafmealone Zep2  Thanks, that makes sense

  • TuckerForPunishment

    Been pouring over numbers all day and if my calculations are correct we will win.

  • wiski

    Just curious how our corci and fenwick were back when we were getting 60 shots a game but couldn’t buy a goal?