Hockey news doesn’t typically happen on Fridays, and hockey blogs aren’t frequently read on Fridays, so we often don’t post a lot of things on Fridays. However there have been a few small events that have arisen between the end of the Leafs last game against Buffalo and Saturday afternoon that would warrant a few eyeballs.
First there was Joffrey Lupul’s public questioning of the league’s disciplinary decisions. Then Leo Komarov was placed on injured reserve. Then came speculation that hey, maybe Ryan Hamilton will play with Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel tonight. So there’s lots of activity floating around, and lots of discussion, but I think we’ll focus most of this on the game against the Boston Bruins tonight on Hockey Night.
We do know a lot about the Boston Bruins. I think a lot of fans would like to know less about the Boston Bruins. The Bruins have beaten the Leafs eight consecutive times, and while the Leafs have played the Bruins much better this year than they did probably on any occasion last season, coming away with a couple of points over the next couple of games, while not crucial, would be a big help.
So what’s the key to beating the Bruins? Beating down their depth players and keeping even with their top guys. The big guns, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and *sigh* Tyler Seguin are getting it done at both ends, controlling the flow of play while on the ice. The only negative puck possession players are the fourth line, Danny Paille with Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell, but good luck getting Phil Kessel out for a lot of minutes against them.
Puck Drop: 7 PM EDT
By The Numbers:
|Corsi Tied %||54.3% (3rd)||45.5 (25th)|
|5v5 GF/GA Ratio||1.26 (5th)||1.03 (14th)|
|Team Shooting %||7.65%||10.29%|
|Team Save %||0.927||0.922|
|PP Success||15.5% (22nd)||18.0% (18th)|
|5v4 GF/60||5.20 (23rd)||6.16 (13th)|
|5v4 SF/60||46.0 (19th)||48.9 (14th)|
|PK Success||92.2% (1st)||85.2% (6th)|
|4v5 GA/60||2.50 (1st)||5.25 (7th)|
|4v5 SA/60||36.0 (1st)||41.3 (3rd)|
From looking at the numbers, what jumps out at you is that Boston has managed to be a team that’s +23 in goal differential despite a well-below norm shooting percentage of 7.45% and a stagnant powerplay. This team has yet to display what it can do on offence.
Defensively, Boston have the best PK in the league and that’s no fluke. They’re 1st by all measures: success rate, as well as goals and shots against rate.
So the question really becomes how Randy Carlyle is going to play them. Leo Komarov is out of the lineup, which costs the Leafs a marginally useful body on the third or fourth line. That means Ryan Hamilton is in, but “where?” seems to be a question:
Hamilton skates on grabovski line with frattin. Komarov is out….reimer starts. #tmltalk
— Paul Hendrick (@HennyTweets) March 23, 2013
Ryan hamilton might see time on bozak line for jvr says carlyle but will start on grabovski liine. #tmltalk
— Paul Hendrick (@HennyTweets) March 23, 2013
Normally, Carlyle doesn’t flip around his lines unless the team is really getting outplayed, so I guess he does have a backup plan if things go South. It’s re-assuring in the sense that it means Caryle is going to default to something other than Nazem Kadri and Colton Orr.
Tyler Seguin – Patrice Bergeron – Brad Marchand
Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Nathan Horton
Jay Pandolfo – Ryan Spooner – Jordan Caron
Shawn Thornton – Gregory Campbell – Danny Paille
Andrew Ference – Zdeno Chara
Aaron Johnson – Johnny Boychuk
Dougie Hamilton – Dennis Seidenberg
Now, Bozak and Kessel have been eaten up by that top line. Knowing Carlyle is trying to find Kadri some tougher minutes, and Kadri wants them, perhaps tonight’s a night to test and see how Kadri can do against the league’s best. It’s a good measuring stick game in that sense. Normally I’d like Krejci against Bozak and Bergeron with Kessel, letting Kadri run amok over the third and fourth units, but the centremen aren’t optimized with the correct wingers to allow for that to happen.
Bit of a shell game here. The Bruins haven’t announced who will be in the bottom six yet, but they shouldn’t post too much of an issue.
As for the Leafs, without Joffrey Lupul due to suspension, Leo Komarov to injury and Joe Colborne to inept management, their lineup will start like this:
James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur – Nazem Kadri – Nik Kulemin
Ryan Hamilton – Mikhail Grabovski – Matt Frattin
Frazer McLaren – Jay McClement – Colton Orr
Carl Gunnarsson – Dion Phaneuf
Jake Gardiner – John-Michael Liles
Mark Fraser – Cody Franson
Reimer and Rask were first off their respective sides.