The Maple Leafs are looking to continue their hot stretch of play entering yet another back to back scenario this weekend, starting tonight in Raleigh.
The pacing of the schedule will continue to confound Leafs fans, as Toronto is going to play three games in the next four nights before a four-day break until their next game on Saturday, November 28.
The good news is that the pendulum has swung the other way for the Leafs after a start in which they largely played decently and outscored opponents at even strength but were let down by spotty goaltending and inefficient special teams. The opposite has been true since the wins have picked up, and they’ve now won four of five, including mostly recently a 5-1 victory over the Avalanche that was their biggest of the season.
While the Hurricanes don’t look like much, with a 6-10-2 record that has them tied for the bottom spot in the Metropolitan Division, they should be a test from a possession standpoint for the Leafs, as they’re coming into tonight second behind only the Kings in CF%. They’re a year removed from finishing ninth in the category in an overall miserable season, however, so Bill Peters’ team has had trouble translating its territorial edge into credits in the win column going on a while now.
Last year, Carolina finished dead last in combined shooting + save percentage, and the laws of regression continue to escape them this year, as they’re dead last in PDO yet again through 18 games in 2015-16. They’re getting sub .900 goaltending from both Cam Ward and new acquisition Eddie Lack, and their forward group doesn’t look formidable enough, especially with the Staal brothers and Jeff Skinner underproducing — particularly Skinner, who has just four points in 18 games.
Results aside, Bill Peters and his former Wings and Red Deer boss Mike Babcock both have their teams playing structured games at the moment, so a betting man is expecting a tightly contested game tonight. Peters is close enough with Babcock that he’s been named to Babcock’s World Cup coaching staff for 2016, so both men should know what to expect from the other.
No lineup changes are anticipated for the Leafs, with Nick Spaling still out due to an upper-body injury.
Toronto Maple Leafs Projected LineupToronto Maple Leafs vs. Carolina Hurricanes Lineup - November 20, 2015
|Left Wing||Center||Right Wing|
|Left Defence||Right Defence|
Mike Babcock Game Day