Not too long ago they were toiling dangerously close to the playoff cut off line, unable to score more than a goal a game, but we all knew Los Angeles was too good of a team with too much winning experience not to turn it on down the stretch when the urgency level rises. That’s exactly what the Kings have done, scoring 25 goals over 8 games and posting an 8-0 record since February 8.
Looking to halt the Kings’ heater is the Maple Leafs led by ex Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier, who has won three in a row and is tied for 5th in save percentage this season. His first time back in LA as a member of the Maple Leafs, this is a big night for Bernier personally and hopefully the team responds accordingly. He’s certainly stopped enough shots this season to deserve it.
Back in November, the Kings came into Toronto at a time when the Leafs had been slumping. Everyone pictured a game spent largely in the Leaf end of the rink, and yet the Leafs allowed less than 25 shots and spent the majority of the game outskating LA and cycling in their end. It remains one of the more fundamentally sound performances of the Leafs’ season, but it was also a loss as the Leafs could not get one by Martin Jones.
Can we expect more of the same tonight? Probably not. The Kings have allowed the fewest goals of any team and nearly the fewest shots. They’re the best possession team according to shot attempts for and against. 26th in goals for despite the 2nd most shot attempts, this is an offense that can be shut down, though, and a hot goalie is something the Leafs have in Bernier. For those wondering, Marian Gaborik has played three games with the Kings and is yet to record a point playing to Kopitar’s left.
Cody Franson is expected to return to the lineup, meaning 7D is likely. Peter Holland is questionable with the flu. If Holland can’t go, one images Kulemin fills the third line center void (probably in between Raymond and Bodie, with Clarkson up to line 2).
The game starts at 10:30 p.m. EST on TSN.
Go Leafs Go. Go Bernier Go.