LGD – Game 60: Canucks @ Leafs – Last stop


The number one movie the last time the Leafs defeated the Canucks. Seriously.

So the Maple Leafs hit Game 60, going into the Olympic break, comfortably in a playoff position and with a chance to really take a big lead against a struggling opponent that’s just been devastated by injuries. Living out in Vancouver, you can’t throw a stone without hitting somebody that’s complaining in some respect about the Canucks (and believe me, I test this theory daily) and the theory out here is that the team is no longer a playoff team. It has some good fixtures on defence, but no game-breaking talents and too much cap space tied up to holdovers of the 2010-2011 team.

This represents the best chance for Toronto to beat Vancouver for the first time since November 24 2003, playing at home against a team at the bitter end of a losing road trip.

KEY STATISTICS

  Canucks Maple Leafs
Corsi Close % 51.7% (10th) 42.7% (29th)
5v5 GF/60 2.23 (17th) 2.36 (11th)
5v5 GA/60 2.19 (12th) 2.46 (22nd)
5v5 Diff/60 +0.04 (14th) -0.11 (18th)
PDO 100.1 (14th) 101.7 (3rd)
     
  Canucks Maple Leafs
5v4 GF/60 4.40 (26th) 7.91 (4th)
5v4 SF/60 57.6 (4th) 54.0 (7th)
4v5 GA/60 4.41 (3rd) 6.75 (22nd)
4v5 SA/60 40.3 (1st) 61.3 (30th)
Penalty Differential -3 (16th) -12 (23rd)

via ExtraSkater and NHL

To the Canucks’ credit, they’ve hung around in the top half of the league in puck-possession all season, though they’ve been about 50-50 since Henrik Sedin fell out of the lineup. They’ve had a marginally good record at goal differential at evens, but have been hurt by having a powerplay that’s either bad or unlucky, and I’m having a tough time determining which it is.

The Maple Leafs have shot up the rankings in GF/60, I’ve noticed. Right before the game against the New Jersey Devils that started the Leafs win streak, they’d fallen to 19th in goals at 2.12 per 60. They’ve since brought that up nearly a quarter of a goal, an impressive feat over such a short amount of games. However, they’re having just as much trouble preventing goals (2.43 GA/60 then as opposed to 2.46 GA/60 now). The key to the ‘turnaround’ has been the offence, in my estimation. I can’t find any evidence that defence or goaltending is driving this.

LINEUPS

I’ll update if anything changes, but have a fun look at who the Canucks have on the ice, presumably:

Chris Higgins – Ryan Kesler – Jannik Hansen
Daniel Sedin – Jordan Schroeder – Alex Burrows
David Booth – Brad Richardson – Zack Kassian
Tom Sestito – Zac Dalpe – Pascal Pelletier

Alex Edler – Raphael Diaz
Jason Garrison – Ryan Stanton
Yann Sauve – Frank Corrado

Ha. Yup.This is a legitimate preseason roster, although it is worth noting that Team Canada Olympian Dan Hamhuis is expected to be back in the lineup for this one. He was paired alongside Chris Tanev (since injured) for most of the season so we’ll see where he’s stuck.

The Maple Leafs are relatively healthy, with David Bolland the only key injured player, currently:

James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
Joffrey Lupul – Nazem Kadri – David Clarkson
Troy Bodie – Nik Kulemin – Mason Raymond
Frazer McLaren – Jay McClement

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

Randy Carlyle went with the ol’ 7 defencemen last time out, which is probably fine for this roster, but he’ll probably re-insert Colt Knorr with Tom Sestito on the other side. I wouldn’t think the Canucks are worth intimidating, though.

That should also give us a Roberto Luongo-Jonathan Bernier goaltending matchup. One is having a career year. One is having an average year by his standards. Guess which one is going to the Winter Olympics? (HINT: The one with the decidedly better career both domestically and internationally)

Anyway, note the early start time. The game starts at 6:00 Eastern. I’ll be here after the game (unlike last time) to post a quick recap where we can complain about any dives or cheap shots we saw during the game.

  • Poluza

    I don’t buy the injury angle about the canucks just like I so many folks didn’t buy into the injury angle when Bozie, Bolland, Clarkson, Kulemin among others were injured or suspension to Kadri etc. And further Carlyle iced Orr, Mclaren and Smithson as a 4th line and Mcclement on the third line.

    Like was argued for the leafs, the vancovuer struggles have little if any to do with injury. But how selective the media appears to be when using the injury card.

    • STAN

      Teams should be able to deal with injuries to a couple of key players and keep rolling. That’s not what’s happening with the Canucks – the Canucks are missing FIVE of their top eight defencemen, including both of their top pairing. They’re missing their #1 and #3 centres, and have had various other players in and out of the lineup over the past couple of weeks, including two of their other top 5 centres (Richardson and Schroeder) and several wingers.

      This would be like the Leafs missing not just Bozak and Bolland, but Raymond, Holland, Phaneuf, Gunnarsson, Fransen, and Ranger too.

  • STAN

    This SHOULD be a relatively easy win, but always beware the wounded animal. That, plus the Leafs are infamous for playing down to their competition.

    That said, I expect the Leafs to be all over the Canucks, peppering Luongo with lots of shots (40 PLUS is my guess.) The incentive? End the pre-Olympics portion on a strong note and make Luongo look like the fading entity he is.

    Leafs 5 Canucks 2.

  • STAN

    These two teams really should play more often. Even though they aren’t in the same conference, seeing these two Canadian franchises matchup on a regular basis should be mandatory scheduling.