We’re just past the quarter pole of the season and the Capitals and Maple Leafs find themselves in a similar boat. Both have winning records, are routinely outshot, receive good goaltending, and shoot at a near-10%-or-above success rate. The two teams are within a couple of points of each other in the Eastern Conference standings and both likely figure into the “middle tier” of the East when all is said and done. It’s worth noting that the Capitals, remarkably, only have seven wins in regulation or overtime. They’ve really bore down on the second point in the shootout with five shootout wins through 23 games. That’s 42% of their total wins, friends.
A few game day notes:
– Tyler Bozak skated this morning but does not sound probable for tonight. Apparently he was seen limping at the practice rink yesterday.
– Randy Carlyle looks to be reuniting McClement, Raymond and Kulemin as his matchup line against the threat of the NHL goals leader Alex Ovechkin and his point-a-game center Nicklas Backstrom.
– Peter Holland was arguably the Leafs‘ most dangerous forward on Thursday and will rejoin Kessel and JvR on the top unit according to the practice lines. The Lupul – Kadri – Clarkson line we haven’t seen as much of as we have hoped (or at all? Can’t remember, too many line iterations) is expected to be a thing based on the practice lines.
Morning lines: JVR-Holland-Kessel. Lupul-Kadri-Clarkson. Raymond-McClement-Kulemin. McLaren-Smithson-Orr.
— Jonas Siegel (@jonasTSN1050) November 23, 2013
– Mark Fraser is expected to return to the lineup in Rielly’s place. Not a fan, but this is probably a move geared towards the PK struggles.
– James Reimer will get the start. He’s 1-3 against the Capitals in his career, but won in his most recent meeting with the Capitals in January of 2013. Braden Holtby will start for the Capitals. He’s 10-7 with a .923 save percentage.
– Ovechkin coming into town is a scary prospect for the Leafs‘ penalty killing units especially, which have receded this month in their killing efficiency (75% for the month, down to 16th in the league at 82.4%). Ovechkin leads the league in powerplay goals with eight on the season, a major part of Washington’s second-best 24.2% conversion rate on the powerplay.
– The Capitals’ second line of Troy Brouwer, Brooks Laich and Martin Erat is a collective -14 and has been a source of frustration toward head coach Adam Oates among Capitals fans.
– The Capitals defence isn’t the sturdiest group 1-6 and the team gives up more than their fair share of shots. In fact, only .6 of a shot less than the Leafs per game. With the likes of Cam Schilling, Alex Urbom, Tyson Strachan and Dmitri Orlov in the lineup to varying degrees, the Capitals’ D has been light on NHL experience in the early season. The Caps did get Mike Green back for last night’s game against Montreal and demoted Orlov to Hershey.
– Getting bailed out by Braden Holtby and relying on the shootout despite getting outplayed and outshot has been the big concern in Washington. For while they’re a dangerous team, Washington is also very beatable. Mikhail Grabovski has not turned the Capitals into a Corsi superpower that out possesses other teams into the ground, as it turns out.
– This is one opponent where, should the game turn into a track meet of traded chances, you don’t necessarily like the Leafs‘ chances, especially with Toronto not firing on all cylinders at the moment with just 15 goals in their last 8 games. The Capitals have scored just two in their last two games, but it’s still a top 10 offense that’s equipped with Alex Ovechkin (26 points), Nicklas Backstrom (24 points) and a third line providing ample scoring depth in Mikhail Grabovski, Jason Chimera and Joel Ward (combined 47 points).
– Obligatory Grabovski audio from after he was bought out:
– A few boo birds were out at the ACC on Thursday night after the team fell apart vs. Nashville on home ice, where they had been infallible for much of the first quarter (8-2) before Thursday). Let’s hope the ACC can remain a fortress for the Leafs going forward, starting tonight.
– Perhaps the Leafs can jump on Washington early, for a couple of reasons: The Capitals will be playing their second game in as many nights after a 3-2 loss to Montreal in Washington last night. Washington has also conceded the first goal in 13 of 23 games, whereas the Leafs have scored the first goal in 14 of 22.
I think we should move Gardiner, Kulemin, prospect, pick for a #1 Dman. Depending on Giordanos situation in Calgary, he would be a good fit.
We need a guy that can play 25+ minutes, so we can lower Dions TOI. If Dion plays 22-27 mins a night he is one of the best in the league, over that, he begins to fumble. Getting a guy who can play top minutes will make Dion a better player, and make our D better.
In my opinion, a Dman that is probably unattainable, but would be an excellent fit is Keith Yandle.
Also, I see the leafs resigning Reimer in the offseason. Going with the tandem next year as well. After that, moving one of the two for either a centreman or defenseman, whatever the team needs at the time.
It has become clear to me that Jake Gardiner is not going to be an integral role on this team. We need to move him before his value decreases even more.
How great has Morgan looked? Very much looking forward to his development over the coming years.
Just think about all of the amazing prospects we have/
Connor Brown leads the OHL in scoring.
Matt Finn is a ppg defensemen,
Frederik Gauthier is developing into an amazing two way centre. He WILL be either a 1 or 2 centre on the leafs in 2-3 years, making an impact right when he starts... He is also a motherfucking giant and is still growing.
I have $400 riding on this game. Same bet with co-workers. Last time I won $500. Plan on winning again with the Maple Leafs.
The pregame hangout will be live here around 6 p.m. or a little earlier. http://mapleleafshotstove.com/2013/11/23/maple-leafs-vs-capitals-pregame-hangout-show/
So Leafs win 6-2?? Holland with the trick, Kessel with 1G3A, Clarkson and Orr with the others. Ovi and Grabo get the two for WAS.
As for Grabo fitting in, Kadri was just telling Henny on Leafs TV what a funny character Grabo was. I don't think likability was an issue in the dressing.
I bet the PPP boys are just licking their lips at the thought of Grabo scoring on the leafs tonight. Twitter will be irritating tonight
Feel like the they mis-managed an asset in Grabo!! If they had used a complaince buy out Liles instead of Grabo he could be sitting in the minors instead of him and what do we really need right now a center???
So Fraser and his wonky knee is playing, but instead of going with 7 D (read Rielly), McLaren will get his 5 minutes of ice time. I get a sense these decisions are not being made in the interests of having a strong roster, but instead to making sure Rielly doesn't play more than 40 games
The leafs will put together a solid effort tonight and win 4-1.....MClemm the gem will stick to ov like shit on a baby blanket
@LupesTroop You're dreaming. FG I seriously doubt has #1 The offensive INSTINCTS to be a point producer in any significant capacity at the NHL and #2 I don't think he really WANTS to.
He's a defensive standout, it's ridiculous the defensive maturity to his game as an 18 year-old. But while he handles the puck, passes, and shoots very well, Gauthier seems to prefer to play without the puck than with. Having said that, a Kadri, Sundin, Kessel, Mogilny wants the puck on his stick in a close game whereas Gauthier wants to snuff out his opponents. I just think Leaf fans will have to temper expectations that what we've got is a kid who's not likely to slot past the 2nd line, but will excel in tough roles like the PK, face-off and ES shutdown assignments. High defensive accumen with a high attention to detail in a 6'5" big body that skates pretty well. Also, not a softie, plays and wins battles on the boards and tries to drive to the net.
Sounds a little better than Matt Stajan.
@LupesTroop Yandle doesn't play the kind of minutes you're talking about, and when he does, he does a bad job of it. He doesn't play against top competition either. Yandle is wildly over-rated, and over-priced. He's not unattainable at all - he's been on the block for two years. That would also be a terrible package to give up for Giordano. As for Dion's ice time, it has already come down just with Carlyle focusing on not burning him out. Before you go mock-trading Gardiner away because we have Finn, Percy, Rielly, etc....remember that we gave up Rask because we had Pogge. Not a smart way to do business. Makes more sense to deal Finn and Percy and put the onus on the other team to turn the package into something successful.
Basically what I am trying to say, is unlike years past, we need to make a move while our players have value. A few years ago Kulemin was a 30 goal scorer, along with MacArthur...
We have positions that need to be filled. Young talent can be moved to fill those roles.
@LupesTroop If we are going to trade for a #1 Dman with that package would rather Brian Cambell outta Florida if they retain some cap $$
@LupesTroop Depending on his ambition, Reimer might make some noise about resigning. He might not be eager to be a 1A or 1B again. And, if yout think about, assuming his level of play is maintained, the Leafs are going to be in the exact same situation the Kings were in last summer with Bernier. An offer sheet of $3.3 million, if Reimer signs, gets the Leafs a 2nd round pick as compensation Whoopty doo. And because the Leafs will likely be scrapping the top of the salary cap, >$3.3 million may be too much
@LupesTroop The Leafs already have two Yandle type players with Gardiner and Rielly. I agree we need another top pairing defender though. I just wouldn't be moving Gardiner for one.
@SalmingsScar Hmmm. Only $400 this time. Confidence a little shaken?
@MaxwellHowe The RFA/UFA does not depend on the number of games played.
Having someone stick to OV would be great, I thought it was a lost art.... shadowing another player to keep him from showing up....lol
@TheCanucksnaphook but yo want some of the chillie right its loaded for bear k lol
But we might actually have the players to fill those positions now. Rielly could be Dion's partner next year or the year after if he keeps progressing the way he has. And while Gardiner's last game wasn't so great, he has been much improved on the defensive side of the puck this year. He's a perfect 2nd pairing guy IMHO.
@LupesTroop They'll probably let him sit on the market, he'll probably fetch 4+ as a teams long-term #1. If a team wants to go that route, we take the picks, match a lowball offer. Otherwise he'll be one of the last contracts to get negotiated.
You gotta remember Kulie is the biggest question to come back and I think missing Kulie would be big. He's got all the skills and grit, a coaches dream. Wins so many puck battles and physical battles it's unreal. He's also almost making 3, and is he gonna take a pay cut in the prime of his career?
Bolland is a big question mark, they need him to take an offer around what he's making now. Same goes for Phaneuf. Gardiner is also up for negotiation is probably more likely to get offer sheeted for under 3 mil, which is a deal Gardiner may take. UFA status also of Ranger/McClement/Fraser/Franson.
Lots of guys in place for a raise, should be a shit show.
no to Giordano, simply because he didn't get along very well with the guy who is now our CAPTAIN...
I'm also one of the guys who believes in Randy Carlyle's Defence by Committee...and think our present defence has to grown together just like our forwards have been doing since Randy got here, slowly but surely the Carlyle Systems will mature as the team also matures into their roles
I just love Mclemmet, I think he is as valuable as any player on our team, he's a horse who makes brilliant decisions and has pretty decent hands too. Fuck OV, hope a puck gets caught between his gapped teeth tonight.
Nonis will eventually be able to shed Liles' salary cap but I don't want it to be at the expense of losing Jake. He's hardly costing us anything on the cap and freeing up Liles' salary gives us room to add the player you want without losing Gardiner.
@Burtonboy Nonetheless, my conspiracy theory holds. And "Snoopy and the Red Baron" is the greatest Xmas song ever
Love him too. I just hope he will be an affordable re-sign.