Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Pittsburgh Penguins – Game #81 Preview & Projected Lines

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Photo: NHLI via Getty Images

Toronto Maple Leafs (39-26-15, 16th in NHL) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (50-19-11, 2nd in NHL)

Puck drop: 7:00 p.m. EST
Arena: Air Canada Center
Watch: CBC


Game Day Quotes

Mike Babcock on the Penguins’ heavily-depleted lineup:

If you look at it last game, you’d say the opportunity was a pretty good one with the lineup they dressed. All of those people who I didn’t know their names skated us into the ground. Suddenly, I got to know some guys’ names. That’s what happens. They come in the national league, you don’t know who they are, they skate around and they have the puck all the time, and you get to know their name fast. I got to know some guys on Tampa the other night. I wouldn’t spend a whole lot of time worrying about that. I’d get ready myself and do what we do, and when we do that we have a lot of success. Doesn’t matter who we play.

Babcock on the opportunity to clinch a playoff spot tonight on HNIC:

You’ve got to be excited. It’s Saturday night, it’s in our building, we’ve earned the opportunity. If you’re not excited for the opportunities… that’s why you play. You play in opportunities that you perceive are big games. For our team and our organization at this time, it’s a big game. For Pittsburgh, they’ve got two left, or whatever they’ve got. It’s different for us and different for them, but it’s important that we play hard and play right. Last game, we didn’t move. We watched them skate and work and we stood around. We’ve got to come out and work tonight.

Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan on resting players for tonight:

There is always a balance between making sure that you give guys sufficient rest, but at the same time you don’t want to have them off so long that there is a significant amount of time between the playoffs and the last time they’ve played game action. That’s the balance. We’ve talked as a staff and we’ve sketched out a gameplan that we think is best for our team.

Penguins defenceman Brian Dumoulin on the team’s motivation level for tonight’s game:

We still want to be playing our best hockey. It’s more for us to be doing the right things and playing well going into the first-round series. These games aren’t just for nothing. Whether you’re a young guy looking to make an impact on this league, every game is important. Even though they don’t matter standings-wise, they do matter personally.

[The Leafs] are still looking to seal, so you know you’re going to get their best and they’re going to play as hard and as hungry as they can. It’s not going to be just a go-through-the-motions game. They’re going to be going out there with everything that they have, so I’d expect it to be a good matchup.

Penguins defenceman Trevor Daley on playing out the rest of the regular season:

Next week is important. It’s also important to be playing good hockey going into next week. You don’t want to go out there and take your time or make it easy. That’s asking for something bad to happen. We want to be firing on all cylinders going in.

Penguins forward Connor Sheary on what’s left to play for in the last two games before the playoffs:

I think it’s important to stay sharp. If you let your habits go in these last couple of games, it could be bad for us going into the playoffs. I think we’re coming into tonight with the same mindset: play the right way, and hopefully use this as momentum going into the playoffs.

With Tampa winning last night, they might be a little more ready than they may have been if they had clinched. We have to be ready for their best. They’ve got a lot of young talent on their team and they can definitely score goals.


Matchup Stats

Statistics courtesy of SportingCharts.com

StatPitTor
Points11193
Record %0.6940.581
Home Winning %0.7950.603
Away Winning %0.5540.55
Shootout Winning %0.4440.111
Goal Differential Per Game0.650.19
Shot Differential Per Game1.09-0.85
Hits Per Game25.123.8
PIM Per Game8.79.9
Opponent PIM Per Game9.210.1
Goals Per Game3.413.04
Even Strength Goals Per Game2.612.25
Power Play Goals Per Game0.740.71
Shots Per Game33.831.9
Shots Per Goal9.910.5
Team Shooting %0.1010.095
Power Play %0.2290.241
Goals Against Per Game2.762.85
ES Goals Against Per Game2.052.24
PP Goals Against Per Game0.630.54
Shots Against Per Game32.732.79
Shots Against Per Goal11.8411.5
Opp. Team Shooting %0.0850.087
Penalty Kill %0.8020.826
Save %0.9160.913
Goals Against Average2.722.81
Shutouts55
Opponent Save %0.8990.905
Opponent Goals Against Average3.362.99
Opponent Shutouts42

Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lines

Forwards

Leo Komarov – Nazem Kadri – Connor Brown
Zach Hyman – Auston Matthews – William Nylander
James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Mitch Marner
Matt Martin – Brian Boyle – Kasperi Kapanen

Defencemen

Jake Gardiner – Nikita Zaitsev
Morgan Rielly – Connor Carrick
Matt Hunwick – Roman Polak

Goaltenders

Starter: Frederik Andersen (33-16-14, 2.67, 0.918)
Backup: Curtis McElhinney

Injured: Eric Fehr, Nikita Soshnikov, Josh Leivo
Scratched: Martin Marincin, Ben Smith, Alexey Marchenko


Pittsburgh Penguins Projected Lines

Forwards

Jake Guentzel – Sidney Crosby – Conor Sheary
Tom Kuhnhackl – Matt Cullen – Phil Kessel
Scott Wilson – Kevin Porter – Tom Sestito
Dominik Simon – Carter Rowney – Josh Archibald

Defencemen

Ian Cole – Justin Schultz
Cameron Gaunce – Trevor Daley
Mark Streit – Ron Hainsey

Goaltenders

Starter: Marc-Andre Fleury (18-9-7, 2.99, 0.911)
Backup: Tristan Jarry

Scratched: Matt Murray, Bryan Rust, Nick Bonino, Patric Hornqvist, Chad Ruhwedel, Brian Dumoulin
Injured: Carl Hagelin (lower body), Chris Kunitz (lower body), Olli Maatta (hand), Kris Letang (neck), Evgeni Malkin (upper body)


Who’s Hot

  • Tyler Bozak: three-game assists streak
  • Nazem Kadri: ten points (four goals, six assists) in last ten games
  • Sidney Crosby: six points (one goal, five assists) in last four games
  • Jake Guentzel: four-game goal-scoring streak