GDT: Leafs Go Duck Hunting (Sports puns suck)


The Leafs will be back in the Hanger tonight to take on the (formerly mighty) Anaheim Ducks.  JS Giguere will get the start for the Leafs after last night’s debacle in the big apple.  The Leafs, who have lost their past three games will be hoping that a return home will see a return to the win column.  Jonas Hiller will get the start for the Ducks, who are resting shoot out specialist Julie Gaffney from Bangor, Maine (yeah, that’s a D2 reference).


Keys to the game:

 Both Anaheim and Toronto sport mediocre defensive statistics (being 19th and 20th in goals against in the league, respectively), however the Ducks have been red hot of late, winning 8 of their last ten.  Mocking the belief that need for a top line centre to be in a playoff spot, the Ducks have managed this without Ryan Getzlaf in the line up for the past 9 games.

The Leafs offense is as inconsistent as ever, scoring an anemic 2 goals in the past three games while defensive miscues (like Francois Beauchemin’s beautiful centering pass on the first Rangers goal last night) have seen the leafs goalies get lit up for 13 goals over that same span.  The Leafs simply must be better in their own zone if they have any chance against snipers like Bobby Ryan, Corey Perry or the ageless Finnish Flash. 

With the return of Kris Versteeg from injury, Marcel Mueller will again play on the fourth line tonight.  The German export hasn’t looked out of place in his 2 games played for the Leafs.  Given the recent struggles on the powerplay, he could expect to see some time on the second unit with Bozak and Kessel, with hopes that his large frame and weight will cause havoc in the blue paint. 

“Dramatic” Plot-line:

 Tonight will mark the first time that Jean Sebastian Giguere will face his former team since being acquired by the Leafs last January.  After winning both a cup and a Conn with the Ducks (2007 and 2003, respectively), Giguere is looking forward to facing his old comrades.  Giguere said to the assembled media, “It’s always like that every time you play your old team. You just want to play and have a good game and stick it to them, whether it’s friendly or not, you just want to stick it to them.” 

JS Giguere’s comment above might almost sound hollow in light of today’s report (per tsn) that he’d be willing to consider a trade should Burke hear offers.  Ever the good soldier, Giguere’s wish is to be loyal to those who have shown him loyalty.  However, given Giggy’s advanced age, he must also be a pragmatist.  Any opportunity to play for a contender has got to be a priority for the 33 year old, as playoff success will undoubtedly help his chances at a good pensioners’ deal.

Adding more (potential) fodder for the media types is that Giggy will be facing his replacement, Jonas Hiller.  Hiller has emerged as a steady (if not superb) starter in Anaheim after a successful career in the Swiss league.  Originally signed as a free agent before the 2007 – 2008 season, Hiller has – over the past four seasons – gone from back up, to platoon, to starting goalie for the Ducks.  With steadily improving numbers, Anaheim management found him to be a cheaper and more effective solution between the pipes and led to Giguere’s subsequent trade.

The game can be seen on Sportsnet.  So enjoy the pre-game with ‘Wilbur’ and the real analysts.