LGD – Game 50: Canadiens @ Leafs – The Cincuenta

 

I always like to give these previews a bit of storyline or context heading in, but it’s difficult to do with Montreal. Our friends over at Eyes on the Prize have convinced themselves that Montreal’s record is not indicative of their play and that they’re simply lucky to be winning games lately. That certainly was the case Thursday against the Ottawa Senators—they team won 5-4 in overtime despite being out Corsi’d 64-38. Carey Price allowed four goals and was named the game’s second star. 

“[All] but four players have recorded a negative even strength Corsi” wrote Andrew Berkshire in that EOTP post. “The only player on the Habs roster who is better this season than last season is Andrei Markov. Every other player, bar none, is significantly worse. What’s the simplest explanation for that kind of phenomenon? Coaching.”

The Habs have been struggling on the shot clock since November 1. They’ve struggled to score goals as well, and their .929 even strength save percentage seems to be what’s keeping them in games. 

KEY STATISTICS

  Le Club Hockey Maple Leafs
Corsi Close % 47.0% (26th) 42.7% (29th)
5v5 GF/60 1.81 (29th) 2.15 (17th)
5v5 GA/60 2.13 (11th) 2.43 (23rd)
5v5 Diff/60 -0.32 (23rd) -0.28 (19th)
PDO 99.5 (20th) 101.2 (6th)
     
  Le Club Hockey Maple Leafs
5v4 GF/60 6.52 (11th) 7.55 (5th)
5v4 SF/60 51.0 (16th) 55.4 (7th)
4v5 GA/60 4.39 (5th) 6.60 (19th)
4v5 SA/60 46.9 (7th) 62.9 (30th)
Penalty Differential +7 (8th) -15 (26th)

Only Pittsburgh and San Jose have a better special teams goal differential than the Montreal Canadiens, which is partly how they’ve been able to hold a winning record despite craptacular even strength numbers. That includes a 6-2 differential in shorthanded goals. Despite the team’s problems at evens, they seem reasonably competent at preventing shots while killing penalties.

For Toronto, the story is the same. They’ve moved on from winning games thanks to outrageous shooting percentages (that’s so 2013) or save percentages (that’s so early 2013-2014) and have moved on to shootouts. Enough about them.

To lineups! 

LINEUPS

Coming from Daily Faceoff. The Leafs recalled Troy Bodie with David Clarkson going on IR:

 James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
Mason Raymond – Nazem Kadri – Joffrey Lupul
Carter Ashton – Peter Holland – Nikolai Kulemin
Troy Bodie – Jay McClement – Colt Knorr

Carl Gunnarsson – Dion Phaneuf
Cody Franson – Tim Gleason
Jake Gardiner – Morgan Rielly 

Loving that Franson-Gleason pairing early on. In 54 minutes, the pairing has a 47.2% Corsi rate, which is pretty good considering this Leafs team. I think people may have been too down on Gleason when he first got traded here but I thought that view was a little too negative. He’s looked great early on, though we’ll have to see if it’s sustainable.

Max Pacioretty – David Desharnais – Brendan Gallagher
Brandon Prust – Tomas Plekanec – Brian Gionta
Michael Bournival – Lars Eller – Danny Briere
Travis Moen – Joonas Nattinen – George Parros

Josh Gorges – P.K. Subban
Andrei Markov – Alexei Emelin
Douglas Murray – Raphael Diaz

Here’s a fun fact: Joonas Nattinen will be just the eighth Finnish player to dress for Montreal in franchise history. That’s somewhat surprising, figuring there would be a little more Finnish influence (Finnfluence!) based on Saku Koivu’s career, but apparently his success in a Montreal jersey didn’t force the Canadiens to begin scouting the Finnish ranks more. They do have some great prospects coming out of Sweden.

MENTAL HEALTH BREAK

Here I am smashing a violin:

STARTING GOALIES

Carey Price versus Jonathan Bernier. I think Bernier’s become the starter for this team now. No way of looking around it, unless James Reimer is holding onto an injury he isn’t telling anybody about. It’s the way it goes. I’m a big fan of his, but it’s hard to ignore that Bernier’s having a career year in Toronto’s net.

CBC. 7:00. Let’s do it, then go out for a rip after.