Maple Leafs vs. Red Wings Preview: Big Week Starts Tonight

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NHLI via Getty Images

What a string of hugely important games for the Maple Leafs  this week, starting tonight in Detroit. The Leafs will play the Lightning and Canadiens in their next two games, who are tied for 2nd in the Atlantic Division at one point ahead of Toronto. A good week here puts the Leafs in position to take sole possession of second in the Atlantic; a bad week puts the Leafs’ current wildcard spot in jeopardy. *Dun dun dun*

The Red Wings lineup has a strong Grand Rapids flavour to it as it has all season with the injuries Detroit has experienced. No Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Weiss, Helm, Anderson, Cleary, Jurco, Samulesson or Gustavsson. Bertuzzi is questionable. Unsurprisingly, the Red Wings are second in the League with 333 man games lost to injury this season. (For those curious, the Leafs are 14th in the League with 206 man-games lost).

The glut of Wings’ injuries have been at forward, as their defence core is fully healthy at the moment. That’s probably of little consolation to Babcock, who has been trotting out this lineup of late:

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 2
Photo: Daily Faceoff

James Reimer is expected to start in net for the Leafs. He’s only played the Red Wings twice in his career, both losses. Most recently (just before Christmas), he was pulled after the first period against Detroit after letting in three goals on twelve shots. He wasn’t happy about it, but pucks were definitely going “through” him in the opening 20 and the Leafs did manage to salvage a point afterward.

Jimmy Howard will start for the Red Wings (1-1-1 all time vs. the Leafs).

The Maple Leafs could opt to dress Peter Holland, as he was healthy and available to them on Sunday but Carlyle opted to move McClement onto line three to start the game (there was a tonne of shuffling once the Leafs went down 3-0). Between the 7D set up and Carter Ashton playing 2 minutes, the Leafs had five forwards play over 20 minutes on Sunday. Is that something Carlyle should be replicating throughout this flurry of games down the stretch?

The Red Wings trail the Leafs by seven points but hold two games in hand going into tonight. The season series sits at 1 shootout win to 1 shootout loss for both teams.

TeamGPRECORDHOMEROADL10G/GGA/GPP%PK%PIM/GS/GSA/GFO%
Toronto6936-25-822-11-114-14-75-3-22.81320.778.413.127.736.348.3
Detroit6730-24-1313-11-917-13-44-5-12.542.6917.484.18.930.129.650.9
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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]
  • Jon5200

    Seems like every game is a HUGE 2pts…………really want this one because the habs are going down to colorado tonite:)))

  • Loric76

    Jon5200  agreed, time to put some games between us and the Montreal…Tampa too

  • Benny8TheGreat

    Hey guys,  I’m down in Florida and am suffocating from lack of Leaf viewing. Any idea where I could watch tonights game online? Thanks.

  • mbails

    just finished The Leaf episode 6. Gotta love a guy like D’amigo. Hope he finds a role on this team next season.

  • Jay31

    At the WC1 spot right now, we’d be facing the Pens in the 1st round. I don’t mind that matchup at all.

    Assuming the Pens dont win the conference (Bruins are 5 pts ahead of them at this point), I don’t mind the Leafs finishing the season in their current spot. Beating the Pens and staying in the Metro division for the second round? Sounds good to me.

    I’d also be ok with them finishing 2nd in the division to get home ice and face either the Lightning or Habs.

  • vinoa

    Benny8TheGreat  Try Google. That kind of stuff is frowned upon in these parts. Could get the guys running it into hot water and we should avoid that.

  • Jon5200

    mbails still like him on our 4th line….

  • Jay31

    12 games on the docket tonight.. most I’ve seen in a while

  • Benny8TheGreat

    vinoa Benny8TheGreat  Understandable. Though the fact that I pay Rogers the amount that I do every month, I should be more than entitled to watch from the bottom of the ocean for free if I really wanted to. Thieving bastards!

  • mbails

    Jon5200 mbails  yup. is he killing penalties with the marlies? i think he’s got potential there to be PK2 guy. no reason he can’t put 8-10 minutes a game in next season. Hopefully this season is extra motivation for him to train even harder to  make the next step and be a full time NHLer

  • mbails

    Jon5200 mbails  jerry-mcclement-bodie as a 4th line wouldn’t be terrible.

  • Belfour20

    Benny8TheGreat vinoa  I think the game is on TSN no? if it is and you have the tsn go app, you can stream the game onto your phone. easy as pie. you might have to call rogers for some sign up info though, I think.

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    Benny8TheGreat  Hockeystreams.com – pay for the 1 game. I use it and it’s awesome.

  • mlclearwater

    Big Fuckin game tonight. Lets worry about TB and Montreal as they come. All going to be dog fights and realistically the dust wilol settle after the final horn of the final game of the regular season. It’s so tight and that’s the way the league is designed. We need to keep winning and getting points, GLG

  • BPsotka

    Benny8TheGreat  A related add-on if you’re using chrome is called Hola Better Internet. I love it.

  • GiuseppeM

    https://twitter.com/bradyfan590 https://twitter.com/bradyfan590/status/446016711704059904
    Leafs Assistant GM Claude Loiselle joined us on today’s show – reiterated David Bolland has been fully cleared for some time to play.

  • GiuseppeM

    https://twitter.com/bradyfan590 https://twitter.com/bradyfan590/status/446016935470563328
    Here’s the audio – yes, in most cases, the final decision has to be up to the player. Bolland’s staying out..for now. http://t.co/ermEyV0X7q

  • B_Leaf

    GiuseppeM  

    Mmmm?

  • The_Polish_Cannon

    GiuseppeM  this bodes well with the holdout theory

  • B_Leaf

    So it sounds like we will see Bolland with about eight games to go…just my thought

  • Belfour20

    CanuckUKinToronto  Good research.

  • Belfour20

    CanuckUKinToronto Belfour20 Benny8TheGreat vinoa  Oh ok my bad then.

  • Belfour20

    CanuckUKinToronto Belfour20  You know whats interesting too is that we never took the same amount of penalties we did during Ron Wilsons era. The only problem when he was around was that we couldnt kill them when we took them. The core of the team is basically the same but yet we’re taking more penalties, weird.

  • The_Polish_Cannon

    CanuckUKinToronto  I have no doubt some of this can be chalked up to game management calls. But at the same time the leafs tend to sit back on their leads and play “defensive”. They can’t maintain possession of the puck and get hemmed in their own zone for long periods of time which leads to penalties against

  • B_Leaf

    CanuckUKinToronto  

    If he gets a contract he might be back for tonight.

  • Belfour20

    CanuckUKinToronto  We’ve gotten this far without him, who cares. let he sit till next season. was there a games played clause in the trade we made with chicago or do they get our draft picks regardless of the amount of games played?

  • http://www.jeffpreston.ca/ prest0

    DeclanK Benny8TheGreat  How much for 1 game?

  • 4evrblue

    Belfour20 CanuckUKinToronto at this point I agree. We’re not missing him this year because we barely had him from the start anyway. Let him sit until he’s ready and then let him play 4th line minutes for a while.

  • Belfour20

    CanuckUKinToronto Belfour20  RC needs to find a better defense coach instead of Cronin and Gordon, Gordon not so much because he does PP right? but cronin does the PK work and with the exception of one year, it’s been terrible.

  • 4evrblue

    GiuseppeM lol really? Wonder whats going on there?

  • Belfour20

    If this team struggles to beat a Wings team thats loaded with AHL talent tonight, it’s a fucking joke! #ChokeNation

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    prest0 DeclanK Benny8TheGreat  
    https://www4.hockeystreams.com/register
    NHL, AHL, OHL games. Live, home and away feed. PVR. Has reduced quality for crap i-net connections and full HD for good connections. Can plug it into gaming consoles, etc.

  • Belfour20

    CanuckUKinToronto Belfour20  Makes no sense to me to not have the best minds you can find behind the bench.

  • B_Leaf

    Belfour20  

    We are going to find out what kind of an architect Nonis is. We passed a huge test on the west coast…but if we don’t win tonight it goes for not.

  • Belfour20

    B_Leaf Belfour20  If the roles were reversed, other teams would take full advantage of our inexperience, we need to start doing the same damn thing.

  • 4evrblue

    Belfour20 B_Leaf if the roles were reversed we would fully expect our team to win regardless

  • The_Polish_Cannon

    Belfour20 B_Leaf  it’ll be a matter of whether or not we’re out coached. The roster should be more than capable of winning this game

  • Reversethecurse13

    CanuckUKinToronto  Thanks for the penalty info.
    Not sure why there’s push-back to being more critical and vigilant of refereeing practices.

    In pretty much every major sport, in the recent/modern age, there has been a public admittance of a referee manipulating the game (typically due to gambling).

    Not sure why it’s so crazy to think that game management exists in the NHL, and potentially personal biases either. It’s hard to prove by statistics alone, but at least we can quantify the disparities among teams.

  • Gozo

    If no win tonight and no win tomorrow look out of the playoffs.

  • The_Polish_Cannon

    CanuckUKinToronto The_Polish_Cannon  it’s hard to draw penalties when you don’t have the puck

  • Reversethecurse13

    CanuckUKinToronto Reversethecurse13  But there is a conflict in the MTL/OTT theory, because Ottawa is the team that a) has trouble generating revenue, and b) is lower in the standings.

  • Belfour20

    4evrblue Belfour20 B_Leaf  I would hope we could win but I wouldnt expect an AHL calibre team to win regularly vs an NHL team. You are just setting yourself up for disappointment there.

  • The_Polish_Cannon

    CanuckUKinToronto The_Polish_Cannon  like i said it is a bit of both. We don’t seem to be given many favours from the officials

  • B_Leaf

    Raptors play in Atlanta tonight…they have played some great ball…very inspiring watching this team go all out all the time.

  • wiski

    Gozo  Guarantee win night tonight, they are missing 9 starters, if we can’t beat them we don’t deserve playoffs

  • Belfour20

    I find it funny that Alfredsson left Ottawa for Detroit because he felt the Wings had a better shot at winning the cup, looks like both the Wings and Sens have the same chances right about now, wouldnt you say Daniel?

  • B_Leaf

    CanuckUKinToronto Reversethecurse13  

    I just think there are a lot of MTL fans in the reffing gig and in the league offices, hence the TML hate and the MTL favortism

  • Reversethecurse13

    CanuckUKinToronto Reversethecurse13  Mmm, i’m not buying that the Mtl/Ott game was thrown in any way, at least without more corroborative evidence. Just because game management/personal biases are a factor, they probably come nowhere close to outweighing human error and the great degree of interpretation which comes with hockey officiating

  • Belfour20

    B_Leaf  Team is now starting to run into some injuries, might slow them down a bit, but I hope not.

  • 4evrblue

    Belfour20 4evrblueB_Leaf I watched a lot of people do that for years here while we were rebuilding. We still managed to win a few games too. Inexperience doesn’t always mean useless. Just saying the world isn’t going to end based on tonights game alone. It’s about how we play over a full season and currently we’re 6pts up on WSH who are just outside the playoffs so I think we’re doing okay.