Game Preview: Leafs look to break down the Wild

Game Preview: Leafs look to break down the Wild

Tonight, the Leafs will look to crack the tough nut known as the Minnesota Wild, who will almost definitely be bringing a tight, contained road game into the ACC for game six of the regular season.

The Wild are currently the best shot preventing team in the league with under 22 shots allowed per game after six games. They’ve been excellent at 5 on 5, outscoring opponents 2:1 at evens. So, they’ve pretty much been the opposite of the Leafs, who eat shots for breakfast and are thriving on special teams excellence at the moment.

 LeafsWild
Record5-1-03-1-2
GF/G3.67 (4th)2.67 (16th)
GA/G2.5 (13th)2.0 (6th)
SF/G30.8 (15th)30.3 (17th)
SA/G34.2 (25th)21.7 (1st)
PP29.2% (6th)30.8% (5th)
PK90.9% (2nd)72.7% (24th)
5 on 5 F/A1.08 (15th)2.0 (5th)

The two teams are also opposites in the sense that the Wild are tied for first in the NHL in faceoff proficiency at 57.9%. The Leafs are sitting with a paltry 45.7% success rate at the moment. Mikko Koivu and Kyle Brodziak are hovering around 60% on the dot; the Leafs‘ top three centers are all under 50%.

The ridiculous contract given to Ryan Suter by the Wild last summer has been as close to earned as is possible so far this season, one would think. Suter’s 28:39 leads the league in TOI/g; Suter is playing nearly a full minute more than the second-most-played defenceman Dennis Seidenberg. Together with Jonas Brodin, the Wild have as good of a top pairing as there is in the league at the moment. Brodin’s 5 points have him 6th among defencemen in scoring.

Minnesota’s presumptive starter Josh Harding has a .948 save percentage, 1.06 GAA and a 3-1-0 record so far this season. Update: Darcy Kuemper is expected to start for the Wild; Kuemper has only made three career starts: 1-2-0 with a 2.08 GAA and .916 SV%.

One area of weakness in the Wild’s game at the moment is on the penalty kill, which is in the low 70s. The Leafs‘ third-ranked powerplay may be the key to a win tonight when they do get the opportunity; the Wild do not take many penalties, having only spent 13:27 at 4 v 5 over 6 games. The Wild are also playing their second game in as many nights, having beat Buffalo last night 2-1.

Hopefully the Leafs won’t be forced to try to break the Wild down without the assistance of leading goal scorer (tied with Lupul) James van Riemsdyk. JvR is currently a game time decision. JvR is one goal off the league lead at the moment with five on the season and has been a consistent force for the Leafs.

At the ready in case JvR can’t play is Trevor Smith, recalled today from the Marlies. Smith could center the fourth line, with Lupul joining Kessel and Bozak on the top unit and McClement shifting to the third line wing, but that’s just my guess and one of a few possibilities.

James Reimer returns to the net for the Leafs tonight for his third appearance of the season. He hasn’t played since a poor second period outing against the Senators in the third game of the season, back on October 5th. I’m a big fan of this choice from Carlyle; it strays from the win-and-you’re in model and keeps the fire burning in the bellies of both goaltenders. Bernier didn’t lose, but he was much less than perfect on Saturday, and so it seems a great opportunity to keep the goaltenders really pushing one another.

It could be a tight game tonight akin to the Avalanche loss, so, unlike Saturday vs. the Oilers, any one bad goal could be all the more magnified. Let’s see how Reimer responds.

***

Projected Starting Lines:

Maple Leafs Lines vs Minnesota Wild

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Minnesota Wild, Oct. 15th, 2013
Leafs Lineup  
Left WingCenterRight Wing
LupulBozakKessel
RaymondBollandLeivo
McClementKadriBroll
AshtonSmithOrr
JvR out
Left DefenseRight Defense
PhaneufGunnarsson
RiellyFranson
GardinerRanger
Goalies
Starter: Reimer
Bernier

***

Last Meeting:

93 comments
TroyTech
TroyTech

Gonna have to go to Reimer again on Thursday. He's earned it.

Bring the Cup Home
Bring the Cup Home

maybe nonis put word out that he'd entertain offers for a package of reimer and gardiner and so all the scouts were put on assignment to check out reimer's next start.  man, i wonder what the offers would be for that pairing.  


that said, i do feel that lots of us leaf fans (myself included) constantly throw out trade rumors due to it being ingrained in us that this is all we have to look forward to.  we lost for SO many years that it's become part of our everyday discussions.  i personally am fine without any trades in the near term.  i like our team.  i like gardiner.  i like reimer.  i like having these two goalies for now.  i love what phaneuf brings.  overall, i like our team a lot.  lots of good young pieces in the system. 

ingy56
ingy56

How does Holmgren's statement about Pronger never playing again potentially affect their cap?

ingy56
ingy56

I hope JVR is good to go...he's been running hot.

wendelsway1
wendelsway1

Good Evening Gents.....Leafs win 3-1........GO LEAFS GO!!!!!

dave14keon
dave14keon

Just got  my leaf tickets for the Buffalo game Friday  nov 15th it's going to be a  war

Tim Horton
Tim Horton

REPORT: 5 Scouts will be watching the leaf game from my living room.

whalz
whalz

Kipper says Morgan staying with leafs......they will move someone I'm thinking Gards or Gunner. If it is Gards I hope its for a huge return, but I'd much rather move Gunner......another 7-10 days for Fraser? Gonna need to make a move soon and we also have Brennan looking good and deserving a shot..

Komas Taberle
Komas Taberle

avid Alter ‏@DavidAlter590 2m
Scouts from 10 teams taking in Leafs / Wild. Including 3 Canadiens front office personnel.

Xxxxxnew
Xxxxxnew

Minnesota have any goons anymore?

Tim Horton
Tim Horton

@ingy56 I dont think Holmgrens statement means Pronger is officially retired. It was just a statment. So as far as the NHL is concerned he is still on their team on IR.

.JVR.
.JVR.

@dave14keon 

I'll be there as well :)

JMAC17
JMAC17

@CanuckUKinToronto Yikes, moving these guys now is betting big in Bernier and Reilly.

Early indications is that it is a good bet, but still risky.

Cap forcing the issue is not a nice problem.

Burtonboy
Burtonboy

@whalz Bet he reads Bergers blog 

Burtonboy
Burtonboy

@wiski Lots of scouts from different teams are from the Toronto area . Home for the holiday weekend and its an easy trip down to the ACC to do a little scouting.  

B_Leaf
B_Leaf

@wiski 

Something is brewing. We must be shopping a dman. Who? Gardiner or Gunnar.

Tim Horton
Tim Horton

@wiski how many scouts attend the average game is my question. I always see these types of posts randomly, but have no frame of reference for if it is important or not. Also if there is 3 from the habs its most likely for Minni.

ingy56
ingy56

@wiski @ingy56 Been away all day, no idea really. All I know is he left after 10 mins of the morning skate. 

whalz
whalz

I'd love to keep Gards, but it also depends on the package coming back..Gunner IMO has no more room to grow as a player, he is what he is.....Gards will continue to get better.

Xxxxxnew
Xxxxxnew

Ah, that's where he is. No worries then.

newkb
newkb

@Yaknowwhat @newkb Minnesota is a very disciplined defensive team.  Not a very good matchup I think.....

MaxwellHowe
MaxwellHowe

@ingy56 @Tim Horton 

I hate the Flyers, but I don't see why this should negative affect their cap.  Pronger isn't playing because he is injured.   He did not leave the game intentionally.  I don't think you could consider his contract a cap circumvention.