LGD - GAME 67: Death Valley Part II

Ryan Fancey
March 11 2014 12:27PM

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I've heard that Toronto fans are the most fragile in the entire NHL, and it's probably true. Every loss feels like the beginning of a major collapse, and there can never be enough space between the Leafs and the teams chasing that last playoff spot. We always check the schedule for the "uh oh" stretches, like Deathcember (also known as December) and the Death March (also known as March).

After the Olympic break, the beginning of this month looked a little scary, especially the stretch we're in now. Though the Rangers or Flyers aren't powerhouses, they have climbed into playoff spots after disastrous starts to the season. Add to that three games in California, and you could see how this week in the schedule could cause some uneasiness. 

Thankfully the Leafs have calmed our minds, and what started as a post-Olympic losing streak has now transformed into points in five of the last six games after they disposed of both the Rangers and Flyers in overtime over the weekend, and used an early lead to put away the Ducks last night. 

Following  the  win in Anaheim, it appears the Leafs are playing with house money when they visit the Sharks tonight. They'll need it.

KEY STATISTICS

  • The Sharks are a good puck-possession team, and have been for a while. Currently they're third in the league in close-situation Fenwick for percentage (55%) while the Leafs (42.4%) only lead the Sabres in this category. 
  • San Jose has three players in the top 25 in NHL scoring. Pavelski leads the team with 62 points, with Thornton (61) and Marleau (57) close behind.
  • Phil Kessel used three points in last night's win to give himself 73 on the season and move solely into second place in NHL scoring, behind only Sidney Crosby.  
  • The Sharks don't give up a lot. They blanked the Canadiens earlier this week, 4-0, and overall have only given up 157 goals this season. Only the Blues, Bruins and Kings have given up fewer.

LINEUPS

I'd be surprised if the Leafs change what worked last night, so expect to see something like this;

Kessel/Bozak/JVR

Kulemin/Kadri/Lupul

Raymond/Holland/Clarkson

McClement/Bodie

Phaneuf//Gunnarsson

Gardiner//Franson

Rielly//Gleason

Ranger

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As for the Sharks;

Pavelski/Thornton/Burns

Marleau/Couture/Nieto

Burish/Desjardins/Kennedy

Torres/Sheppard/Wingels

Demers//Vlasic

Irwin//Boyle

Hannan//Braun

STARTING GOALIES

Niemi will start for the Sharks, but it's unclear if Reimer will get the nod on the second half of a back-to-back. Common sense would say Reimer goes after Bernier had to stop 45 shots last night, but Twitter seems to be broken so I can't confirm right now. Will update when we get word on this.

BROADCAST

Tonight's game will air on Sportsnet-Ontario at 10:30pm eastern. Yes, that's right, even later than last night. 

You think that's bad? I live on a rock in the Atlantic Ocean. Midnight start time!

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Good thing the Leafs don't play in the Corsi Hockey League, since that'd be two leagues they're awful in. Email ryanfancey at gmail dot com or follow @rfan_3.
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#1 Robbie-D
March 11 2014, 01:47PM
Trash it!
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I'm with you, Ryan. Midnight starts make for ugly mornings on this floating Atlantic rock.

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