LGD – GAME 66: Death Valley

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I was going to use some picture from the Mighty Ducks movies, but this random picture of Joffrey Lupul playing for the Anaheim Ducks’ old AHL affiliate was too good to pass up.

The Leafs head into tonight’s clash with the Anaheim Ducks in a pretty good spot. They’ve got 76 points, good for third in the Atlantic. They sit five points up on both Columbus and Detroit for a playoff spot. The playoffs look like a pretty safe bet for Toronto.

Except tonight they enter Death Valley.

Not to be dramatic, but that’s absolutely what California is these days. The Leafs kick off their five-game road trip with back-to-backs against Anaheim (2nd in the NHL) and San Jose (5th), followed by a showdown with the LA Kings (8th). Rounding out the road trip are Detroit and Washington, two teams right on the outside of the playoffs’ doorstep. The Leafs have the upper hand but nothing is going to come easy on this road trip.

KEY STATISTICS

  • Three of the NHL’s top eight scorers are playing tonight. Kessel and Ryan Getzlaf are tied for second with 70 points each, while Corey Perry sits close behind with 65.
  • Kessel and van Riemsdyk have combined for 122 points while Getzlaf and Perry have combined for 135 points. Two of the league’s deadliest offensive duos will be going head-to-head.
  •  For those of you familiar with PDO, the Ducks are top of the league with 103.4 while the Leafs are fourth with 102.1. Both teams score on a high percentage of shots and stop a high percentage of them, too. What’s going to give tonight?

LINEUPS

Toronto Maple Leafs // Courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com

James van Riemsdyk / Tyler Bozak / Phil Kessel

Joffrey Lupul / Nazem Kadri / Nikolai Kulemin

Mason Raymond / Peter Holland / Troy Bodie

Frazer McLaren / Jay McClement / (empty forward slot)

Carl Gunnarsson / Dion Phaneuf

Jake Gardiner / Cody Franson

Tim Gleason / Morgan Rielly

Of note, obviously David Clarkson remains out of the lineups. The same goes for Dave Bolland and Colton Orr. This is obviously a total guess, but I wonder if Bolland finally gets back in after this road trip is done.

Anaheim Ducks // Courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com

Kyle Palmieri / Ryan Getzlaf / Corey Perry

Patrick Maroon / Nick Bonino / Jakob Silfverberg

Daniel Winnik / Saku Koivu / Andrew Cogliano

Francois Beauchemin / Hampus Lindholm

Ben Lovejoy / Cam Fowler

Bryan Allen / Mark Fistric

Wow. Lindholm is on the top pairing with Beauchemin? Not bad for a 2012 pick, eh? Anaheim actually drafted Lindholm with the pick after the one Toronto used to draft Morgan Rielly.

STARTING GOALIES // Courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com

Jonathan Bernier goes back in net for the Leafs. You have to figure James Reimer has a good chance of facing the Sharks tomorrow night. Frederik Andersen will start between the pipes for the Ducks. Before you get a little overconfident with the “backup treatment” just remember this guy just took Viktor Fasth’s job. The way he’s playing he might even steal Jonas Hiller’s. Andersen has a team-best .929 save percentage, 2.12 goals against average, and a ridiculous 15-3-0 record. Don’t forget the Ducks still have John Gibson waiting in the wings. It’s almost not fair.

BROADCAST

Tonight’s game will be on Leafs TV at 10pm eastern. Yeppers, it’s time for the ol’ western road swing!

OH I CAN’T HELP IT!

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