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

202

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)
SHARE
Previous articleGreg Cronin Game Day
Next articleGDT: Maple Leafs at Flames (8 p.m., TSN)
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]
  • 17Forever

    Alec Brownscombe 
    Great interview. He is so informative, and he speaks to you with that sense of understanding. There is no dumbing it down for the listener. I respect that. Loved that bit about the changes made to the PK and players reluctant to play that style … Shot Blocks, Clearing the front of the net. So imperative to the new found success. 
    Personally,  I still believe Randy ( whom I like ) ran our horses to long at the end there of game 7 but … own opinion. 
    Great Job ! Thanks again.

  • wiski

    CanuckUKinToronto No goose eggs for Bernie

  • sniperstar

    Was re-watching the game from last night and on the first goal I just realized Kessel covered the enter surface of the ice as fast as it took the team to move the puck up it. He literally starts the breakout by giving it back to Rielly and just takes off. So much speed it’s ridiculous.

  • Mind Bomb

    Cloud09 Mind Bomb Komas Taberle 
    This Year man, we are wining it al  lol

  • Xxxxxnew

    I noticed the weakest backcheck I’ve ever seen by Gagne on JVR’s goal.

  • sniperstar

    Xxxxxnew I feel like that’s a lot of the Oilers young guns though.

  • Mind Bomb

    CanuckUKinToronto Mind Bomb @Xxxxxnew  I wonder how many watched !

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Cameron19 Alec Brownscombe Shot you an email, Cam

  • rustynail

    Mind Bomb Cloud09 Komas Taberle as I predicted before start of season Leafs win the Eastern conference :)

  • Jmessih

    sniperstar How do you re watch games?

  • sniperstar

    Jmessih sniperstar PVR’d it last night.

  • Jordan29

    Alec Brownscombe Cameron19 OMG TEL ME WHAT HAPPENED I WASNT AROUND!

  • 17Forever

    CanuckUKinToronto wiski 
    But who cares !! It’s the quality of scoring chances that need to be followed.  Danger Danger !!

  • Xxxxxnew

    Run and gun while hanging the D and goalies out to dry. I always worry about playing a wide open game like that in the first game of a back to back. Hopefully Carlyle gets them in track tonight.

  • sniperstar

    Xxxxxnew Yeah for sure but if any team ever wants to play that game with the leafs I’m fairly certain our boys will come out on top everytime.

  • Mind Bomb

    rustynail Mind Bomb Cloud09 Komas Taberle 100 percent bro

  • LeafsForLife

    Good job Alec. I like the salute and acknowledgement to BUrkie! Well-deserved praise for sure!

  • ReimNier

    I dunno if Alec or Declan posted the Bernier interview, but on his relationship with Reimer word for word: “He keeps telling me that It is a long season and we need to be there for each other.”

  • Xxxxxnew

    I don’t disagree. It’s fun to watch. But over the long haul it can bite you in the butt.

  • sniperstar

    Xxxxxnew Yeah it can. We’ve seen that already but we’ve also seen the boys clamp it down when they need to. Hopefully they can bring that consistently as the season moves on.

  • The_Polish_Cannon

    ReimNier yeah someone posted the link earlier, Good to hear there is no animosity between the two

  • Xxxxxnew

    I was saying earlier, it was four years and 10 months ago Cliff was in charge and traded Steen and Carlo for Stempniak.

  • vinoa

    Hey does anyone know how to post images? I tried pasting it but it just disappeared

  • rustynail

    https://twitter.com/43_Kadrihttps://twitter.com/43_Kadri/status/395666380076232704
    “https://twitter.com/Acker34: How do you like it? https://twitter.com/search?q=%23tmltalk&src=hash https://twitter.com/43_Kadri http://t.co/GUyQhGnSYZ” trick or treat

  • sniperstar

    Xxxxxnew Steen may just have the best backhand in the NHL right now. Really wish we had kept him. Always liked the guy.

  • Jordan29

    Can someone tell me what the hell Fenton did today?

  • The_Polish_Cannon

    vinoa i think rustynail knows how to ^

  • rustynail

    Jordan29 just a 500 comment long argument

  • mcloki

    vinoa https://livefyre.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/200793443-Photo-uploading-for-Commenters

    Here’s the livefyre help

  • Conis

    Jordan29 
    I didnt stick around to find out… as I’m sure many people did

  • sniperstar

    Jordan29 Just came on and said Kessel is inconsistent. About 100 times.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Jordan29 Let’s just say I had a Jordan moment.

  • The_Polish_Cannon

    Jordan29 he was being Fenton. Kessel was finally getting praised by the MSM today for the first time in 4 years and he came here with the same old false narrative of saying Kessel is inconsistent and beating the horse dead

  • Jordan29

    sniperstar Jordan29 HAHAHAHAHAHHAHA he must have fun sometimes trying to think of different arguments to start. Last nights game mad it VERY hard. Give the guy credit honestly

  • Jordan29

    Alec Brownscombe Jordan29 A true MLHS meltdown? Man sorry I missed it.

  • rustynail

    Alec Brownscombe Jordan29 man that was the quietest Jordan moment EVER :)

  • Jmessih

    sniperstar Jmessih Ah ok.

  • sniperstar

    Jordan29 sniperstar Well it was more like the same argument reiterated in 100 different ways.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Jordan29 Alec Brownscombe Yeah, I’m a pretty level headed guy but lost it a little bit.

  • The_Polish_Cannon

    Jordan29 sniperstar well his argument essentially was breaking down that Kessel plays amazing for a  stretch of games and than plays great for another stretch of games. and somehow that’s proving he’s inconsistent. And it went on for hours, with everyone on the site until there was so much frustration Alec put him in his place

  • Jordan29

    Alec Brownscombe Jordan29 Life is so much more enjoyable when you lose you shit once and a while. Everyone wins!

  • LeafsForLife

    The_Polish_Cannon Jordan29 I think i left just before it all broke down. I got tired of the same gibberish bullshit from him and stopped reading. I dont see the point of engaging him. It encourages him to keep going.

  • sniperstar

    Okay boys have a paper to do before the game tonight. Take it easy. GO LEAFS GO!

  • wiski

    rustynail Alec Brownscombe Jordan29 Nowhere near code 39 stuff

  • Xxxxxnew

    Gets long and boring when opinions aren’t accepted as facts.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Everyone refresh and let me know if there’s a little photo frame option available to you now below the post field.

  • Jordan29

    Man I miss the good old days of my last job where I would sit on the laptop at work and chill mlhs all day. I feel like i miss so much

  • rustynail

    Alec Brownscombe not for me

  • wiski

    Xxxxxnew You have to go deeper 😉

  • vinoa

    rustynail I tried again and it worked the 2nd time.