January 01 2014 09:34AM
I grew up, and live in, Vancouver.
For those of you unawares, Vancouver gets about two or three days of snow a year. We don't have outdoor rinks, or ponds that freeze over. Robson Square downtown has an underground rink that's an ideal spot for first dates, but there's no hockey played. Essentially, I grew up without getting to play hockey outside.
That changed, somewhat, when I moved to Kamloops. Kamloops is a smallish city about four hours northeast of Vancouver. It's in a valley with very little vegetation and is extremely dry, so there's little rain in the summer or snow in the winter. That makes for an ideal hockey rink, as pictured above. There were a few ponds we'd play on for days between December and February, generally playing on weekends until we didn't feel like the ice was worth scraping any more. I think it's pretty cool the NHL decided to run a slew of outdoor games. There is, of course, no "heritage" to this. Pro hockey has always been an indoor affair but it's still a nice excuse to trot out faux retro jerseys and brown pads.
Anyway, the Maple Leafs will play their first outdoor game in their history against the Detroit Red Wings later today. A short preview ahead:
|Corsi Close %||51.1 (12th)||42.7% (29th)|
|5v5 GF/60||2.23 (15th)||2.17 (16th)|
|5v5 GA/60||2.36 (21st)||2.20 (14th)|
|PDO||99.3 (18th)||102.0 (4th)|
|5v4 GF/60||6.46 (12th)||7.62 (6th)|
|5v4 SF/60||55.2 (8th)||55.9 (7th)|
|4v5 GA/60||5.21 (8th)||6.60 (19th)|
|4v5 SA/60||44.7 (5th)||62.0 (27th)|
|Penalty Differential||-19 (28th)||-12 (24th)|
But… bleh. The last thing you want in a showcase game like this is for the Maple Leafs to put up one of their trademark "we got outshot by 20" performances. Especially since some of us are hungover.
Detroit remain a good possession team despite their extended losing streak. Over at Extra Skater you can see that their 10-game PDO (shooting plus save percentage) has fallen to a little below 95.0. Interesting to see that that's the second time this season the Wings have dipped below 95. The first time they did it, they wound up with a 104.4 over the next 10. And now another dip:
It's impossible to predict this little chestnut in the short term.
Penalty differential too, it seems. The Leafs have shot up from 30th to very close to league average in a little under three weeks. Be great if that were sustainable, but it's part of the reason the team isn't giving up so many goals despite a pedestrian penalty kill.
MAPLE LEAFS LINEUP
There's been little to no media coverage over the last three days. Means we need some guesswork:
James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Mason Raymond - Nazem Kadri - Joffrey Lupul
Nik Kulemin - Jay McClement - David Clarkson
Jerry D'Amigo - Peter Holland - Colt Knorr
Carl Gunnarsson - Dion Phaneuf
Jake Gardiner - Cody Franson
Paul Ranger - Morgan Rielly
Not expecting any major changes. This has been a winning lineup recently for Randy Carlyle. The Leafs are the team that focuses on player-and-player matchups more than any other, and I wonder if he'll be just as a stickler about it during the outdoor showcase game. Just seems harder to yell.
RED WINGS LINEUP
Henrik Zetterberg - Pavel Datsyuk - Todd Bertuzzi
Justin Abdelkader - Darren Helm - Patrick Eaves
Drew Miller - Joakim Andersson - Tomas Tatar
Gustav Nyquist - Luke Glendening - Danny Cleary
Niklas Kronwall - Danny DeKeyser
Jakub Kindle - Kyle Quincey
Brendan Smith - Brian Lashoff
The Red Wings have some names that weren't around for the team's first meetup a week ago. Zetterberg and Helm, mainly. Helm is one of the league's underrated players. He's a penalty-drawing play driver. Jakub Kindl is back in the lineup after some healthy scratches, but Jonathan Ericsson is out. Ericsson is one of the heavy minute guys on the Wings' D.
As for Daniel Alfredsson, he'll be a game time decision. Just feels wrong if he weren't playing in the Winter Classic against the Leafs. Those two are Voldemort and Harry Potter.
(and a paragraph as useful as most goalie statistics)
Jonathan Bernier versus Jimmy Howard. At the very least, there isn't the chance of Jonas Gustavsson shutting out Toronto at the Winter Classic, which would have been the most Leafs thing ever. The rumour has it that Howard has joined Ryan Miller and Jonathan Quick as goalies for Team USA in Sochi, but we'll know that for sure later today. Of course, that leads to hand-wringing over which goalie is the best bet at the Olympics. Commentators will cite regular season numbers, but those don't matter at all if you're looking to predict the best goalies in a short tournament like the Olympics.
The Winter Classic begins at 1:00 Eastern on CBC.