Game Preview: Leafs pay a visit to past associates at the Saddledome

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In a back-to-back scenario on the road, the Maple Leafs Leafs did themselves a favour with an easy win over the Edmonton Oilers yesterday. Carlyle was able to scale back the minutes of Kessel, JvR and Kadri between 14-16 minutes each, and keep Dion Phaneuf under 20 minutes on the night as he rolled his lines once the game was safely in the bag. Amazingly, Kessel put up 4 points in 15 minutes of work yesterday.

1A/1B goaltending situations also lend themselves well to back to back situations, and the Leafs have a pretty damn good one of those going at the moment. Jonathan Bernier has been confirmed for the start tonight. Other than the goaltending change, no lineup alterations are expected from last night’s winning combination in Edmonton.

Going into any NHL rink having finished up a game 20 hours previous is tough, but there might be a tendency to underestimate the Flames among those who haven’t been keeping an eye on them a little bit in the early going. The Flames are unbeaten in regulation at home this season, and are a moderately surprising 5-4-1 to start the season. The Flames do not have much in the way of established front line talent at this point – though they have something very special in the making in 19 year old center Sean Monahan – but are a team that’s shown some scoring depth in the early going on lines 1-3, which Bob Hartley has been rolling to some effect. The Flames are top 10 in offense entering tonight with 3.09 goals per game.

Monahan is an early Calder candidate with 6 goals and 10 points in 11 games, while Hudler is relishing the mentor’s role on his line with 13 points. Hartley has deployed the pair to take advantage of weaker competition, so expect the home team to look to match Monahan, Hudler and Baertschi up against the McClement/Ashton/Lupul and Smith/McLaren/Orr lines. Hartley likes to use center Mikael Backlund for a huge percentage of their defensive zone draws without much of a chance to breathe offensively as he’s been rotated up and down the lineup in the first month. Daily Faceoff has him beside fourth liners Brian McGrattan and Lance Bouma as of last check.

Stempniak, Cammalleri, Baertschi and Jones are all also off to decent starts offensively for Calgary. Numbering the Flames’ lines is a little foolhardy, as their top three lines aren’t anything spectacular and Hartley has been moving his centers around quite a bit, but they do have the ability to piece together three decent 2nd-3rd lines. 

The exciting part from the Leaf perspective: The Flames have allowed the second most goals in the league on a per game basis this season, they’re second last in team save percentage, and are one of the worst penalty killing teams in the league. The eyes of the red-hot Kessel, JvR, Kadri and company must be lighting up at the prospect of further worsening those stats. The Flames will also be without key defensive cog and captain Mark Giordano, who had put up a pretty amazing 9 points in 8 games while starting less than 40% of his shifts in the offensive zone before being placed on injured reserve with a lower body injury. The Leafs are also playing one of two teams worse than them in the faceoff circle.

The Flames will be very well rested, having not played since Saturday’s 5-2 win over Washington, and do not have any shortage of reasons to get up for this one. Brian Burke and Lee Stempniak (broken foot) will want this win from the press box, while Matt Stajan and Colborne are going to be playing against their former franchise. I’m glad Stempniak and Stajan (he’s only played 3 games but has 2 points) have some early points to their name, but I don’t think anyone in Toronto will be yearning for their return any time soon, provided we ignore Cliff Fletcher’s senior advisory opinion. We’ll always owe Stajan our thanks for not only signing his abhorrent contract elsewhere, but for getting thrown in the package of mediocrity that landed us Dion Phaneuf before he did so. Burke just can’t shake this guy no matter how hard he tries.

In terms of a Leaf with extra motivation tonight, Phaneuf will be looking to bring his best stuff in a building that will likely boo him throughout the evening for reminding Flames fans of how they haven’t made the playoffs since he left.

In all seriousness, I hope Brian Burke looks on tonight and takes pride in what he left behind in Toronto for his best bud Dave Nonis. The talent restocking process and organization overhaul he oversaw  in the mecca of hockey has really started bearing its fruits. It’s a shame the new ownership group never saw the forest for the trees. Thank you, Burkie.

 LeafsFlames
Record9-4-05-4-2
GF/G3.31 (4th)3.09 (9th)
GA/G2.31 (6th)3.46 (29th)
SF/G26.8 (27th)29.5 (20th)
SA/G35.5 (29th)30.7 (16th)
PP26.1% (2nd)19% (17th)
PK85.4% (5th)75.7% (28th)
5 on 5 F/A1.30 (10th)0.92 (16th)
Sh%12.4% (1st)10.5% (6th)
Sv%93.5% (5th)88.8% (29th)
FO%44.2 (28th)43.9 (30th)
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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]
  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0_nBx81Vwk&feature=em-uploademail

  • Burtonboy

    So Burke skipped town and went back to Toronto this week eh. Chicken shit lol

  • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

    Did I read somewhere that the MLSE brass isn’t impressed with all the visits by Burke at the ACC this season? Anyone know what’s up with that?

  • Burtonboy

    Weekes’ Beat with Jonathan Bernier
    http://www.nhl.com/ice/blogpost.htm?id=22030#&navid=nhl-search

  • Burtonboy

    ingy56 First I’ve heard of that ingy

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    Burtonboy ingy56 same

  • Ryan

    http://www.mlive.com/redwings/index.ssf/2013/10/red_wings_announce_sergei_fedo.html

  • Cloud09

    The passing of the torch, as much as I disliked the Burke firing Nonis succeeding him was going to happen eventually. I’ll never forget what Burkie accomplished with the Leafs but Nonis is here at the right place and at the right time IMO.

  • Ryan

    Alumni rosters for the outdoor game

  • Cloud09

    ingy56 I’m sure Burke has no problem telling the board members and Leiweke to FUCK OFF.

  • Cloud09

    @Ryan Very cool

  • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

    DeclanK Burtonboy ingy56 I’ll have to find the link…it was an aside at the bottom of an article I read.

  • Biltmore

    Leafs win by two or I’ll eat a bug.

  • Cloud09

    CanuckUKinToronto Everyone has a hard on for Kessel now.

  • Jay31

    Cloud09 CanuckUKinToronto It’s about time lol

  • mlclearwater

    GLG lets keep on winning!

  • 17Forever

    Good interview with Greg Cronin on Leafs site. Nothing we don’t know here. But if you like validation.

  • Cloud09

    Jay31 Cloud09 CanuckUKinToronto No kidding, and people thought we were crazy.

  • Komas Taberle

    ingy56 It must be the cheap beer they serve there!

  • Alec Brownscombe

    17Forever Love Cronin interviews. Gonna check it out.

  • Zep2

    CanuckUKinToronto Yeah but according to some ,Kessel is inconsistent

  • Alec Brownscombe

    You’re new here you mentioned, but I had a great sit down with him in the summer. http://mapleleafshotstove.com/2013/07/17/an-in-depth-chat-with-associate-coach-of-the-leafs-greg-cronin/

  • Komas Taberle

    Peking Daily Sports Section heading.
    ” We Rove the Reafs”

  • 17Forever

    Alec Brownscombe 17Forever 
    Right there with ya. I would heave posted it but I am so Laptop useless !!

  • 17Forever

    Alec Brownscombe
    Sweet !! I’ll check that out now. Thanks !!

  • Mind Bomb

    Alec Brownscombe 
    Braggart ! *-*

  • 17Forever

    Alec Brownscombe 
    I still own an address book …. :(   LOL

  • 17Forever

    Zep2 CanuckUKinToronto 
    That was dealt with … and admirably.

  • Komas Taberle

    Nice picture of Dopey, Drunky and Discombobulated

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Komas Taberle Are you a fan of the team as its currently constructed?

  • Cloud09

    Alec Brownscombe Komas Taberle Yea, I think the Flames roster is in prime position to take a nice sound beating by our beloved Buds.

  • Jordan29

    TESTING

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Cloud09 Alec Brownscombe Komas Taberle was asking him in the general sense. Seems crazy to call Burke any of those words.

  • Xxxxxnew

    Uhhh ….

  • Xxxxxnew

    Flames are sitting on about $13 million in cap space right now too, I believe.

  • Komas Taberle

    Alec Brownscombe Komas Taberle Absolutely Alec! I love the Leafs, have done for 46 years.
    Would like us to get a #1 centre and a #2 dman but all in all I am a big fan.

  • Mind Bomb

    Xxxxxnew 
    Game was televised there, was 9:am there time. Our Chinese friends got to see the leafs smoke the oilbabies

  • Mind Bomb

    Komas Taberle Alec Brownscombe Kadri is our 1C Dammit lol

  • Komas Taberle

    Mind Bomb Komas Taberle Alec Brownscombe Let’s keep our finger crossed

  • Cameron19

    So did Fenton end up getting the boot?  I saw the skirmish at lunch time, lol.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Here’s the Cronin interview – love listening to this guy.
    http://mapleleafshotstove.com/2013/10/30/greg-cronin-game-day/

  • Mind Bomb

    Komas Taberle Mind Bomb Alec Brownscombe 
    Aye bro, I am lol, He has me convinced though, I am crossing my fingers I am not wrong lol

  • Cloud09

    Alec Brownscombe Cloud09 Komas Taberle I love Burkie too but lets not forget he is still on another team now. The joke is in good taste, I laughed at it.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Cloud09 Alec Brownscombe Komas Taberle I just remember he is pretty anti-Burke, unless I’m mistaking him for someone else.

  • Xxxxxnew

    For people wondering why Burke has been seen at the ACC so much this season – he hasn’t uprooted his family to Calgary yet. Kids still in school.

  • Cloud09

    Alec Brownscombe I can’t say I know much about that. Just make sure you are fingering (hehe) the right guy.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Cameron19 He issued a mea culpa

  • Cloud09

    Mind Bomb Komas Taberle Could finally see all the pieces start to fall together.

  • mcloki

    Cameron19 No great loss if true.

  • Cameron19

    Alec Brownscombe Cameron19 Darn.