The Maple Leafs enter a home-and-home set looking to avoid the trap game (x2) against San Jose. Four points is the expectation against a Sharks team that is one of the worst NHL teams of the modern era and a loser of 10 consecutive games (7:00 p.m. EST, Sportsnet Ontario/Sportsnet West/CBC).

Game Day Quotes

Sheldon Keefe on keeping the team focused after a few days off before entering a matchup against the 32nd-ranked team:

It is all the things we have been talking about. We want to take care of the game. First, we look to take charge of the game if we can and get out to a quick start. At the same time, you have to take care of the game and not beat yourself or give them anything easy.

As we learned the other night — and I guess you can include LA as well — you just have to have some patience with it sometimes. Sometimes, it doesn’t go in for you and you have to stay with it without digging yourself a hole as that is going on.

Keefe on the need to keep the momentum going defensively after three consecutive games without a five-on-five goal against:

It is a mindset, and you can, at times, get away from that. You are not going to be perfect every night. I think we have been in a good groove here and we wanted to stay with it. Now, we get back to it and you want to stay focused on it.

That is why I was really proud of the effort the other night when the puck was not going in the net for us. If there was ever a time when you start to deviate, cheat, or get frustrated, it would be a night like the other night when nothing seems to be falling. The guys stayed with it and we got rewarded for it.

It is all the more reason to keep doing what we are doing.

Keefe on the Sharks’ competitive showing against Winnipeg in the last game:

In recent games, for maybe one or two, San Jose has kept it close. It has been tight. They have been right there. The game can kind of swing and go either way. The opponent had to stay with it and ended up finding a way.

The Sharks have been on the wrong side of games of late, but they have kept it close. I am expecting it to be a similar game as Anaheim in the sense that it might take until the third period before you can pull away or get a win. From our perspective, we just have to make sure we do what we can to control the hockey game and take care of it from there.

Keefe on Morgan Rielly’s steady play at both ends this season:

Most nights, he is getting the other team’s best in the toughest matchups. For him to be a positive player for us and find ways to contribute on offense… He just continues to kind of do it all for us. You need to have a guy like that on the backend. He has become such an important piece of ours over the years. He just continues to get better, it seems.

Noah Gregor on his time in San Jose and whether it was tricky learning the league in a losing environment: 

I really enjoyed my time there. The organization treated me really well and I made a lot of good friends there. The hockey kind of was what it was through those four years. We weren’t the best team in the standings, but we always worked hard. It wasn’t always the best outcome, but we worked hard and I really enjoyed my time.

I think I developed well there. They have had some guys come through that have developed into really good players — me, Ferraro, Eklund. Guys did develop, but it can be tricky at times if you want to put players in a situation where they are going to be losing or if you want to keep them developing in the minors. It is a difficult situation, but it all depends on the player, too.

Head-to-Head Stats: Maple Leafs vs. Sharks

In the season-to-date statistics, the Leafs hold the advantage over the Sharks in five out of five offensive categories and five out of five defensive categories.

Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lines

#23 Matthew Knies – #34 Auston Matthews – #16 Mitch Marner
#59 Tyler Bertuzzi – #91 John Tavares – #88 William Nylander
#29 Pontus Holmberg – #11 Max Domi – #19 Calle Jarnkrok
#74 Bobby McMann – #64 David Kampf – #18 Noah Gregor

#44 Morgan Rielly – #78 TJ Brodie
#22 Jake McCabe – #2 Simon Benoit
#55 Mark Giordano – #37 Timothy Liljegren

Starter: #31 Martin Jones
#41 Dennis Hildeby

Scratched: Conor Timmins, William Lagesson, Nick Robertson
Injured: Joseph Woll, Ryan Reaves

San Jose Sharks Projected Lines

#72 William Eklund – #48 Tomas Hertl – #94 Alexander Barabanov
#20 Fabian Zetterlund – #64 Mikael Granlund – #68 Mike Hoffman
#11 Luke Kunin – #39 Logan Couture – #10 Anthony Duclair
#90 Justin Bailey – #22 Ryan Carpenter – #18 Filip Zadina

#38 Mario Ferraro – #6 Ty Emberson
#3 Henry Thrun – #84 Jan Rutta
#33 Calen Addison – #44 Marc-Eduoard Vlasic

Starter: #29 MacKenzie Blackwood
#36 Kaapo Kahkonen

Injured: Nico Sturm, Matt Benning, Oskar Lindblom, Givani Smith, Jacob MacDonald, Kyle Burroughs