The Maple Leafs are looking to score a goal tonight in San Jose.

In arguably their toughest back-to-back turnaround of their schedule (besides the strength of the teams, the Leafs would’ve gotten in very late due to noise ordinances, requiring an extra pair of bus rides bookending the flight), the Leafs are looking to break a streak of 121 minutes and 13 seconds without a goal.

The process of figuring out how to generate scoring chances off the cycle is proving to be an adjustment for the Leafs, and frankly might be something they never excel at as constituted, but surely a team that can score at the top of the League for 40+ games with less possession than 90% of teams can figure out a solution for manufacturing more scoring opportunities with more zone time. It’s going to take more of a commitment to driving the net and center lane to generate more second and third opportunities, though.  It would also help if they could bear down on the rush opportunities they do still generate, as that’s been the other part of their sudden offensive woes, to go along with a slumping powerplay.

The San Jose Sharks have not been the consistent force of years past this season and find themselves with some big questions looming, but the obvious challenge with this California road swing plus the stop over in St. Louis is that you’re playing four heavier teams all well equipped down the middle, i.e. better at the type of game Horachek is trying to implement. If the Leafs haven’t had enough trouble matching up against some of the best lines already, the Sharks present a pick-your-poison top six with duos of Thornton-Marleau and Pavelski-Couture.

The nice thing is that the Leafs haven’t been snowed under and outcompeted to embarrassing degrees on this trip so far, but having the offense dry up has been frustrating to watch to say the least. Hopefully the Leafs, now 1-3 under Horachek, get the offensive breakthrough they sorely need.

Lineup Notes: Komarov and Booth are likely out, with call-up Matt Frattin drawing in for his first NHL game since November 8th. There is some talk Jonathan Bernier will start the second game of this back to back, which is a little dumbfounding. Besides the overwhelming statistical evidence that a fresh goalie significantly outperforms a tired one in the second leg of a back to back, Bernier frankly hasn’t been that good lately.

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Anaheim Ducks - Head to Head

Head to Head:Maple LeafsSharks
Record (Points%)22-19-3 (.534% - 20th)23-16-5 (.580% - 16th)
Goal Differential+1 (17th)-1 (18th)
GF/G3.04 (5th)2.66 (18th)
GA/G3.07 (25th)2.64 (18th)
PP19.9% (11th)21.1% (8th)
PK81.8% (13th)81.2% (15th)
SF/G29.1 (21st)30.8 (9th)
SA/G33.3 (27th)29.2 (16th)
5v5 SF/G27.5 (23rd)28.1 (20th)
5v5 SA/G32.6 (27th)28.1 (14th)
5v5 FF%45.2% (27th)50.4% (18th)
5v5 CF%45.0% (27th) 51.4% (13th)
5v5 Sh%9.01% (3rd)7.09% (26th)
5v5 Sv%91.96% (20th)91.50% (21st)
FO%49.2% (16th)51.6% (8th)

PP=Power Play %; PK=Penalty Kill %; GF/G=Goals for per game; GA/G=Goals against per game; SF/G=Shots for per game; SA/G=Shots against per game; Sh%=Shooting %; Sv%=Save percentage; F0%=Faceoff percentage; CF%=Corsi for % (shot attempts: shots, blocked shots, missed shots); FF%=Fenwick for% (shots+missed shots)

Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lines

Daniel Winnik – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
(3-14-16) – (14-18-32) – (19-24-43) (37g, 91pts TOT)
James van Riemsdyk – Nazem Kadri – Richard Panik
(19-21-40) – (11-14-25) – (7-1-8) (37g, 73pts TOT)
Mike Santorelli – Sam Carrick – David Clarkson
(9-16-25) – (0-0-0) – (9-4-13) (18g, 38pts TOT)
Matt Frattin – Trevor Smith – Troy Bodie
(0-0-0) – (1-2-3) – (0-0-0) (1g, 3pts TOT)

Dion Phaneuf – Cody Franson
(2-20-22) – (6-19-24) (8G, 47PTS TOT)
Jake Gardiner – Stephane Robidas
(2-7-9) – (0-4-4) (2G, 13PTS TOT)
Morgan Rielly – Roman Polak
(4-8-12) – (4-3-7) (8G, 19PTS TOT)

Jonathan Bernier
(16-12-3, 2.69 GAA, .916SV%)
James Reimer

Scratched: Korbinian Holzer
Injured: David Booth (upper body), Leo Komarov (upper body), Peter Holland (upper body), Joffrey Lupul (lower body)

San Jose Sharks Projected Lines

Matthew Nieto – Joe Thornton – Patrick Marleau
(3-6-9) – (9-25-34) – (7-21-28) (12g, 71pts TOT)
Joe Pavelski – Logan Couture – Melker Karlsson
(22-16-38) – (15-23-38) – (6-4-10) (43g, 86pts TOT)
Tommy Wingels – James Sheppard – Barclay Goodrow
(10-14-24) – (4-8-12) – (2-5-7) (16g, 43pts TOT)
Tyler Kennedy – Tomas Hertl – Tye McGinn
(3-2-5) – (8-8-16) – (1-3-4) (12g, 25pts TOT)

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Brent Burns
(6-9-15) – (11-24-35) (17g, 50pts TOT)
Brendan Dillon – Justin Braun
(1-6-7) – (1-14-15) (2g, 22pts TOT)
Scott Hannan – Matt Irwin
(0-1-1) – (2-3-5) (2g, 6pts TOT)

Antti Niemi
(17-11-4, 2.59GAA, .912SV%)
Alex Stalock

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