Game Preview: Leafs vs. Ducks

Game Preview: Leafs vs. Ducks

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The Anaheim Ducks come into Toronto tonight looking to notch their eighth straight victory. Randy Carlyle would like nothing more than to spoil the streak on his former team.

Carlyle, toeing the line between demanding better and jumping all over his team despite being 6-3 with injuries, chose to let the team off relatively easy at practice yesterday, hoping to flush the negatives of the Chicago game and reset the mindset for tonight’s game.

Let’s hope this isn’t just another boring, methodical road game for the team visiting the ACC, as it has been when Colorado, Minnesota and Carolina came to town. It would be nice to see the Leafs finish a few more checks and inject some some passion into their game.

The Leafs also must activate their speed better and shore up their breakout if they’re going to have any chance tonight against a Ducks team that is lighting it up in the early season. They’re scoring at a 3rd-best 3.62 goals-per-game rate and their shooting percentage is below 10%; this is a team that has been tilting the ice in their favour, putting over 37 shots a game on their opponents’ goalie.

Speaking of which, Jonathan Bernier is expected to start for the Leafs, as the preference seems to be to have Bernier in net for the previously rarely-seen Western opponents. The Leafs should have taken a lesson from Chicago that Bernier is human and no goalie can be expected to steal a game routinely when facing over 40 shots.

The Ducks have been getting solid contributions from lines 1-3 this season. Dustin Penner being out will throw their lines a little out of whack, but Getzlaf and Perry each have nine points, second line center Mathieu Perrault has a point a game, Selanne and Silfverberg have six apiece, while Cogliano and Winnick have also been chipping in offensively with four points each.

The Ducks’ defence looks like it could be weak, but has been getting the job done with support from their forwards and goaltenders; Hampus Lindholm, besides having a hilarious first name, was the defenceman drafted one behind Morgan Rielly in the 2012 draft and has been playing 19 minutes a game for the Ducks. Coming from overseas and not the CHL gave him the advantage of being able to spend some time in the AHL last season. Rookie Sami Vatanen has been averaging 18 and a half minutes. The underrated veteran Francois Beauchemin has been clocking 21 minutes a game while Cam Fowler has been leading the Anaheim defence core in playing 23 all-situations minutes.

Jonas Hiller will start for the Ducks in net. He’s a perfect 4-0 on the season with a 2.01 GAA and a .937 save percentage.

The Leafs do carry the special teams advantage based on the numbers so far this season. The Ducks’ PP is converting at a sub-10% success rate, which also speaks to their 5 on 5 dominance in the first eight games.

Pregame Hangout Show (from yesterday):

 
Leafs
Ducks
Record6-3-07-1-0
GF/G3.22 (7th)3.62 (3rd)
GA/G2.44 (11th)2.38 (10th)
SF/G27.2 (26th)37.6 (2nd)
SA/G35.6 (28th)30.9 (16th)
PP27.8% (2nd)9.4% (28th)
PK85.3% (7th)78.6% (22nd)
5 on 5 F/A1.0 (15th)2.09 (2nd)
Sh%11.8% (3rd)9.7% (11th)
Sv%93.1% (4th)92.3% (8th)
FO%45.4% (26th)50.7% (14th)

Last Meeting:

Alec Brownscombe is the founder of MapleLeafsHotStove.com, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He was also the editor of the 2009-12 Maple Leafs Annuals. You can contact him at [email protected]