Game Preview: Leafs host JT’s Islanders

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Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images

Picking up two points versus the Islanders before Kadri and Bozak return with Predators, Capitals and Blue Jackets on the docket could set the Leafs up nicely for the rest of November. The Leafs need to accumulate some points before they embark on a December from hell.

With the likes of Trevor Smith, Jay McClement and Jerred Smithson playing elevated minutes at center, the Leafs have been forced to try to grind out goals and generate more in-zone offense with less of their usual rush attack exploits. It’s been a struggle to score, but the goaltending has remained steadily excellent and the Leafs have been trudging along while splitting the points.

The Islanders lost goaltender Evgeni Nabokov to the injured reserve after he injured his groin in the first period of a 5-4 shootout win over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday. Backup Kevin Poulin finished out the game in that high-scoring affair and is expected to start tonight. Poulin had already been getting a growing share of the starts over the struggling Nabokov. He is 3-5-0 with a .909 save percentage.

The Islanders have also been without prized new acquisition Thomas Vanek, who is day to day with an upper body injury. John Tavares has not missed a beat without previous running mate Matt Moulson, riding into tonight’s game on a five-game streak that includes eight points. Tavares has feasted on the Leafs in his last three visits to the ACC, with eight points over his last three trips to Toronto.

The Islanders haven’t built on their playoff appearance last season in the early stages of 2013-14. There are some young offensive weapons on this team, but it’s a weak club defensively that hasn’t benefited from the same strength in goaltending as last year. Frans Nielsen, John Tavares and Kyle Okposo have all hit the 20-point plateau already through 21 games; after those three, with Vanek hurt, the Isles’ scoring trails off quickly. Expect Lupul – Smith – Clarkson to take on the brunt of the Tavares/Okposo matchup.

The Leafs allowed 16 goals against in their three meetings with the Islanders last season while losing two of three. One assumes Reimer keeps the net having won on Saturday, but he doesn’t have a good history against New York. Could go either way.

While they have had a hard time shutting down Tavares and company, the Leafs do hold a significant edge in goaltending and special teams going into this contest. While the Leafs have dropped down into the middle of the pack in goals per game after scoring just four goals over five games before putting four by Jhonas Enroth on Saturday, their powerplay has moved up to third in the league and will line up against the worst penalty kill in the NHL.

The lineup for the Leafs will likely remain the same outside of Morgan Rielly stepping in for the banged-up Mark Fraser.

Head to Head:LeafsIslanders
Record12-7-18-10-3
GF/G2.75 (14th)2.76 (12th)
GA/G2.30 (9th)3.14 (27th)
SF/G26.5 (28th)30.3 (14th)
SA/G35.8 (28th)30.0 (14th)
PP23.5% (3rd)18.9% (17th)
PK83.5% (11th)72.3% (30th)
5 on 5 F/A1.14 (9th)0.91 (21st)
Sh%10.3% (4th)9.1% (13th)
Sv%93.6% (2nd)89.5% (27th)
FO%46.7% (25th)45.1% (29th)
Goalie H2HRecordSV%GAASOEV SV%PK SV%
Jonathan Bernier7-5-1.9382.051.945.923
Kevin Poulin3-5-0.9092.520.926.793
Projected Lineup  
Left WingCenterRight Wing
JvRHollandKessel
LupulSmithClarkson
RaymondMcClementKulemin
Ashton/McLarenSmithsonOrr
Left DefenseRight Defense
PhaneufGunnarsson
GardinerFranson
RiellyRanger
Starter: Bernier
Reimer

Maple Leaf Hangout Episode #12 for your Game Day:

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  • wendelsway1

    GO LEAFS GO!!!

  • Alec Brownscombe

    -Keon- Just a projection based on him winning.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    -Keon- Alec Brownscombe You fucking around or would you actually have a problem with it?

  • Alec Brownscombe

    -Keon- Alec Brownscombe You been missing them due to the new job?

  • wendelsway1

    Murph2417 -Keon- Alec Brownscombe We’re not going to lose……provided the team shows up to play 3 periods of hockey…..doesn’t matter who’s in net

  • Alec Brownscombe

    wendelsway1 Murph2417 -Keon- Alec Brownscombe “Provided team shows up to play 3 periods”
    Has that happened once in the first 20? lol. Be nice to begin a new quarter by doing so.

  • wiski

    frick et frackhttps://twitter.com/mlsehttps://twitter.com/mlse/status/402807233940975617
    Hey https://twitter.com/JLupul how could you let this happen on your watch? RT https://twitter.com/Jgardiner272 Twins Basil https://twitter.com/mriles4 http://t.co/Yt08xo4fXr

  • wendelsway1

    Alec Brownscombe wendelsway1 Murph2417 -Keon- …..yeah, yeah…..a girl can dream …..team’s bound to come together eventually….no time like the present.  :)

  • wiski

    Murph2417 wiski I like it lol

  • Mind Bomb

    wiski This is our Future !

  • Airfreshener

    Murph2417 wiski Mock suits for measuring according to MoRy

  • lieffan

    wiski Gards is a skinny dude.

  • wendelsway1

    Murph2417 wendelsway1 Alec Brownscombe -Keon- Would if I could….have to settle for the power of positive thinking…lol

  • Dink

    Just know Islanders will get at least 40 shots tonite…

  • lieffan

    @Dink Tavares is scoring at least one. We know that much.

  • Dink

    @lieffan  agree

  • wendelsway1

    @Dink Perimeter shots don’t count 😉

  • Mind Bomb

    @Dink And 3 scoring chances out of them :)

  • Dink

    Mind Bomb didn’t they get 7 last year at Toronto?

  • lieffan

    wendelsway1 The biggest issue is that when we’re withstanding tons of shots, it’s mean we don’t have enough of the puck.
    Without some of our weapons up front, it’s hard to score enough that way.

  • lieffan

    @Dink Mind Bomb Correct. Two high scoring losses to these guys.

  • Dink

    wiski school play?

  • Dink

    @lieffan wiski Got quite a lean to his left there

  • wiski

    Murph2417 the corci ones shipped on the 15th

  • Dink

    @lieffan Mind Bomb thats why I think Bernier should be in…

  • Dink

    wendelsway1 ditto

  • Alec Brownscombe

    The Leafs allowed 16 goals over 3 games against these guys last season.

  • wendelsway1

    @Dink Mind Bomb You can’t change the past….but every moment is an opportunity to change the future……GO LEAFS GO!!!……thinking positive here Boys.   :)

  • Mind Bomb

    @lieffan Mind Bomb  Our Defense is Better :) P

  • wiski

    Alec Brownscombe Always have trouble with these guys.

  • Dink

    Mind Bomb hopefully

  • Dink

    wiski Alec Brownscombe I can see a 6-5 game

  • thelongroad

    wendelsway1 Mind Bomb Could use some more of that :-)

  • wendelsway1

    Alec Brownscombe I just keep telling myself that Moulson was the difference in those games  :)

  • wendelsway1

    CanuckUKinToronto Alec Brownscombe Good….so what I keep telling myself is kinda making sense…….Moulson was the difference maker, I tell ya…..we’re winning tonight in regulation.

  • thelongroad

    wendelsway1 Murph2417 -Keon- Alec Brownscombe This could be the turning point for the leafs season, establish an identity and start a good roll when healthy adversity can do wonders for the confidence.

  • wiski

    https://twitter.com/Berger_BYTEShttps://twitter.com/Berger_BYTES/status/402812678441152512
    How will https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Leafs&src=hash do tonight against my darkhorse Stanley Cup finalist – New York Islanders? Always fun when John Tavares comes to town.

  • wendelsway1

    Yaknowwhat No idea what the score will be but we’re winning in regulation, by two goals, one being an empty netter.

  • wendelsway1

    Yaknowwhat wiski ….is a favourite at the top of my shit list…..nothing darkhorse about this Goofball.

  • MaxwellHowe

    Alec Brownscombe -Keon- Maybe, but while Reimer won after giving up 2 goals on 35 shots, Bernier lost 3-1 (with one empty netter) after facing 26 shots.  Not much to choose between the two really.  But I recall Bernier owns the Predators, so Reimer might be the natural choice for this one, then back to JB

  • wendelsway1

    Yaknowwhat wendelsway1 You betcha….all about winning….JUST DO IT!!

  • MaxwellHowe

    wiski No its not.  Have you watched what he does in TO? I wish the Leafs were capable of conjuring up some hate for the Isles.  No emotion usually signals a poor game for the blue and white

  • sniperstar

    That Islander PK looks like 2 points for the taking.

  • wiski

    Yaknowwhat wiski More like the front runner. lol

  • wendelsway1

    sniperstar Yeah…which is why we’ll probably be playing short for the majority of the third period…..Fuck you very much, Refs!…..please let me be wrong on this one.

  • MaxwellHowe

    wendelsway1 sniperstar OK, lets be cool…

  • wendelsway1

    MaxwellHowe wendelsway1 sniperstar Be cool?…when it comes to Reffing?…….NO!

  • MaxwellHowe

    wiski So I guess its asking a bit much to expect these two to strike fear in the hearts of opposing forwards.  The Islanders should put this on their bulletin board for tinite’s game

  • wiski

    https://twitter.com/YahooSportsNHLhttps://twitter.com/YahooSportsNHL/status/402819175606779908
    It was inevitable, one supposes: P.K. Subban protest song set to Village People hit. http://t.co/F7fv5DmUWP

  • wiski

    MaxwellHowe wiski You have to be careful judging a book by its cover, Clark Kent had a nerdy suit too. 😉