The Maple Leafs return home to host the Hurricanes after a miserable trip down South.

[quote_box_right]”I think everybody knows that is a dangerous lineup and those are dangerous players and at any point they can break out,” McClement said. “You have to be aware of them at all times no matter what has gone on for them in the last little while. That’s probably even more motivation for them, so we have to make sure we take care of the puck. They are quick in transition and that is when they get most of their chances, so we have to be aware of them at all times.”[/quote_box_right]

The Leafs went to Carolina just before Christmas and got thoroughly outcompeted in a 4-1 loss and outshot by a 36 to 24 margin. They were winners of six straight going into that game (including two wins over the Red Wings, and wins over Los Angeles and Anaheim), sitting in the top 10 in the league standings, before the loss to the Canes marked the beginning of a death spiral that saw Randy Carlyle fired just nine games later.

That spiral is still spinning downward despite improved possession results under Peter Horachek, as the Leafs have just one goal in their last four games played. Strength of competition drops off for the next few games with the Hurricanes and Senators on the docket; the Hurricanes are the second lowest scoring team in the League, so theoretically if the Leafs continue to suppress shots against effectively they’ll have better defensive results than the three goals against per game they’ve been averaging over the four-game losing skid. Granted, the Leafs have been a reprieve for low-scoring teams all season, so you never know what you’re going to get.

The Hurricanes have proven to be a hard working team, visible in their above-league-average possession numbers, but have some of the worst percentages in the League when it comes to the crucial goal scoring and goaltending aspects of the game.

Whether statistically verifiable or not, hockey people often warn about the difficulty of a first game home after a long road trip. Hopefully the Leafs play desperate hockey, because they should be a very desperate team this point and need to take advantage of a weaker opponent.

Maple Leafs Projected Lines

Daniel Winnik – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
(3-15-18) – (14-18-32) – (19-24-43) (37g, 93pts TOT)
James van Riemsdyk – Nazem Kadri – Richard Panik
(19-21-40) – (11-14-25) – (7-1-8) (37g, 73pts TOT)
Mike Santorelli – Trevor Smith – David Clarkson
(9-17-26) – (1-2-3) – (9-4-13) (19g, 42pts TOT)
Troy Bodie – Sam Carrick – David Booth
(0-0-0) – (0-0-0) – (1-1-2) (1g, 2pts TOT)

Dion Phaneuf – Cody Franson
(2-20-22) – (6-21-27) (8G, 49PTS TOT)
Jake Gardiner – Korbinian Holzer
(2-7-9) – (0-4-4) (2G, 13PTS TOT)
Morgan Rielly – Roman Polak
(4-8-12) – (5-3-8) (9G, 19PTS TOT)

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

Scratched: Matt Frattin (0-0-0)
Injured: Joffrey Lupul (lower body) (9-8-17), Peter Holland (upper body),
Leo Komarov (upper body) (5-13-18), Stephane Robidas (upper body) (0-4-4)

Carolina Hurricanes Projected Lineup

Eric Staal – Jordan Staal – Jiri Tlusty
(13-13-26) – (1-3-4) – (11-6-17) (25g, 47pts)
Jeff Skinner – Riley Nash – Elias Lindholm
(10-9-19) – (7-12-19) – (8-10-18) (25g, 56pts)
Nathan Gerbe – Victor Rask – Chris Terry
(4-13-17) – (6-8-14) – (6-3-9) (16g, 40pts)
Brad Malone – Jay McClement – Patrick Dwyer
(2-2-4) – (1-7-8) – (4-3-7) (7g, 19pts)

Andrej Sekera – Justin Faulk
(1-13-14) – (8-18-26) (9g, 40pts)
Tim Gleason – Ryan Murphy
(1-6-7) – (0-5-5) (1g, 12pts)
Ron Hainsey – Brett Bellemore
(1-4-5) – (0-3-3) (1g, 8pts)

Anton Khudobin
(4-8-2) 2.41 GAA .912SV%
Cam Ward

Scratched: Alexander Semin, Andrej Nestrasil, John-Michael Liles

Injured: None


Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Carolina Hurricanes - Head to Head

Head to Head:Maple LeafsHurricanes
Record (Points%)22-21-3 (.522% - 20th)15-25-5 (.389% - 28th)
Goal Differential-4 (19th)-25 (25th)
GF/G2.94 (9th)2.02 (29th)
GA/G3.07 (25th)2.56 (15th)
PP19.2% (13th)16.9% (22nd)
PK82.2% (13th)82.6% (12th)
SF/G29.0 (23rd)29.6 (20th)
SA/G33.5 (28th)27.6 (6th)
5v5 FF%45.3% (28th)51.3% (15th)
5v5 CF%45.1% (27th) 51.5% (11th)
5v5 Sh%8.67% (7th)6.05% (30th)
5v5 Sv%91.97% (20th)90.81% (28th)
FO%48.7% (20th)51.6% (9th)

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)

Previous articleCorsi, Shooting Percentage & The Carlyle Era
Next articlePhaneuf rocks one Staal, fights the other
Founded in 2008, Maple Leafs Hotstove (MLHS) has grown to be the most visited independent team-focused hockey website online (Quantcast). Independently owned and operated, MLHS provides thorough and wide-ranging content, varying from news, opinion and analysis, to pre-game and long-form game reviews, and a weekly feature piece entitled "Leafs Notebook." MLHS has been cited by: ESPN, Sports Illustrated, CBC News, USA Today, Fox Sports, Yahoo! Sports, NBC Sports, TSN, Sportsnet, Grantland, CTV News, CBSSports, The Globe & Mail, The National Post, The Toronto Star, The Toronto Sun, Global News, Huffington Post, and many more.