One of the reasons the Leafs have a good record to start the season is their special teams play. Against Anaheim, they’ll be running into a team that has been getting rat turd-like results on special teams but have curiously been one of the most dominant squads at even strenght.
Randy Carlyle gets to play against his old team, a team he won a Stanley Cup with and spent full six seasons, making the playoffs five times although his team’s poor start in his seventh season ensured the Ducks would miss despite a very strong second half pace. Anaheim is consistently a team that’s tough to figure out, a team that has fluctuated between ‘elite’ and ‘terrible’ over the last ten years or so. While the Leafs defied mathematicians last season and made the playoffs with a low puck-possession rate, so did the Anaheim Ducks, winning 30 games in the short season, although they backed into the postseason and were exposed by the Detroit Red Wings and were upset in the first round.
So the Ducks are doing quite poorly on special teams, eh?
Numbers added up from NHL.com. Not sure how that “ST%” matches up league-wide, but it seems like under 50% isn’t very good. The Ducks have been less successful than the Leafs have been successful.
The Ducks powerplay should be an interesting test for the Leafs. The Leafs have had PK success but have had trouble preventing shots. The Ducks have scored just three goals in 58:38 of 5-on-4 time (3.07 GF/60 minutes, 29th in the league) but are third in shot generation behind San Jose and Washington, two teams with notoriously strong powerplays.
Curious to see how this shakes out, but the Leafs probably shouldn’t play with fire and give the Ducks a lot of powerplays to work with. They have tonnes of skill up front.
Kyle Palmieri – Ryan Getzlaf – Corey Perry
Emerson Etem – Mathieu Perreault – Teemu Selanne
Andrew Cogliano – Saku Koivu – Daniel Winnik
Patrick Maroon – Nick Bonino – Jakob Silfverberg
François Beauchemin – Hampus Lindholm
Bryan Allen – Sami Vatanen
Ben Lovejoy – Cam Fowler
Tonnes of skill up front. Getzlaf and Perry are going to be a very difficult matchup for the Leafs top line. Randy Carlyle has run power-on-power way more than last season, and especially in the absence of Nik Kulemin, he doesn’t have a dedicated checking line to defend.
Man, this team has a lot of depth. They’re 7-1, and it looks like they have that 53.7% Corsi Close rate for a reason. Cogliano-Koivu-Winnik were an excellent unit together last season and are the type of line that can run all over the Leafs depth players as currently constructed.
MAPLE LEAFS LINEUP
So Troy Bodie will stick around with the team in place of Carter Ashton. I have time for both players, but I think I much prefer Ashton over Trevor Smith or Colton Orr:
James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
Mason Raymond – Dave Bolland – Josh Leivo
Jay McClement – Nazem Kadri – Joffrey Lupul
Troy Bodie – Trevor Smith – Colton Orr
Carl Gunnarsson – Dion Phaneuf
Morgan Rielly – Cody Franson
Paul Ranger – Jake Gardiner
No real changes here. The Leafs are really slipping at evens lately. I’d like to see a shake-up in the lines and some more ice-time for Kadri. Joffrey Lupul is playing some great hockey, some of the best of his career, yet him and Kadri are stuck playing 5th and 6th minutes among forwards to start the season.
Apparently it’s Jonathan Bernier versus Jonas Hiller. Viktor Fasth is out with an injury and 24-year old Frederik Andersen relieved Hiller after a rough outing in his last start. Andersen stopped all 24 shots he faced and earned a victory over Dallas.
He’s one of three undrafted European goalies on the Ducks. It seems like Anaheim’s got something figured out when it comes to netminders.
The Leafs and the Ducks play at 7:00 Eastern on Sportsnet Ontario. Don’t forget to sign up for StreakCred.