LGD- Grey Cup Eve

The 11-8-3 Leafs host the 10-8-4 Captials on a Saturday night matchup which, at least on paper, appears to be fairly evenly matched. 

But as any follower of hockey knows, what’s written on paper doesn’t always equal a close game.

After the passing of Pat Quinn, the Leafs are expected to honour their former coach in a pre-game tribute. 

The game marks the first of five straight home games for the Leafs, which also includes the Stars, Devils, Canucks and Flames.

The Leafs

Projected Lines via DailyFaceoff.com
James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
Leo Komarov – Nazem Kadri – Mike Santorelli
Joffrey Lupul – Peter Holland – David Clarkson
Daniel Winnik – Trevor Smith – David Booth
 
Dion Phaneuf – Cody Franson
Jake Gardiner – Korbinian Holzer
Morgan Rielly – Stephane Robidas

After 22 games this season, this team looks like one who’s not quite bad enough to be horrible, yet not good enough to be great. Joffrey Lupul plays his first home game in a month and a day, while David Booth makes his Leafs home debut. Korbinan Holzer slots in for his second game of the year, replacing Roman Polak. Although this is the projected lineup, both Lupul and Booth were getting fourth line minutes in their first game back, so the lines may end up looking a little different come puck drop.

The Capitals

Projected Lineups via DailyFaceoff.com
Alex Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – Tom Wilson
Marcus Johansson – Andre Burakovsky- Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera – Jay Beagle – Joel Ward
Brooks Laich – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Eric Fehr
Brooks Orpik -John Carlson
Karl Alzner- Matt Niskanen
Jack Hillen- Nate Schmidt

Led by former next Leafs head coach Barry Trotz, the Capitals are doing just well enough to cling to third place in the NHL’s worst division. It’s really too early to seriously talk playoffs, but after missing them last year for the first time in seven years, simply returning to the postseason is the biggest challenge for this team.

As a fan of skilled hockey in general, an exciting Washington Capitals team (basically any team that makes the playoffs) and has Alexander Ovechkin on it might be the most fun team to watch in the league when they’re hot. While not exactly the 2009-10 team which took home the President’s Trophy as owners of the league’s best record, in a divisional playoff format and a weak Eastern Conference, this year’s Capitals have an outisde shot at being Ovi’s first trip to the conference finals in his career. Posting a 51.4 5 on 5 Corsi, good enough for 12th in the league, Washington’s looking alright so far this season.

Ovechkin-Backstrom will always be a scary 1-2 punch, but Tom Wilson presents a question mark on the Captials top line. The 2012 first-round pick (and former baseball teammate of yours truly) hasn’t been overly impressive this season, putting up just 4 points in 12 games. 19-year-old Andre Burakovsky sits third in rookie scoring, behind Filip Forsberg of Nashville and Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau.

Starting Goalies:

(It’s Justin Peters, by the way, in case you were unaware of Washington’s backup goalie. Side note: have you ever heard an announcer less excited for a goalie fight,  unless it’s a audio delay?) 

I feel bad for the kid who gets one of these as a present.

Things To Look Out For:

  • The Capitals are on the second half of a back-to-back and are playing three games in four nights. Meanwhile, the Leafs haven’t played since Wednesday. 
  • Joel Ward and Tom Wilson returning to their hometown of Toronto. Not that it matters, really, but if either does something notable, it’s defintely because they were out there to impress their friends and family.
  • Washington’s power play is second in the league, clicking at a 28.6 clip. Not surprisingly, Ovechkin has 6 of their 19 goals on the man advantage.
  • The Leafs are 8-0 this season while scoring first, while the Capitals are 9-1-1. TSN2 is showing last year’s Grey Cup starting at 8:00 p.m. (a 43-25 blowout), so you should be able to tune in time for that following the first goal, seeing as the results of the hockey game will have most likely already been decided. It’s bound to be more exciting, and TSN could probably use the viewers. 
  • Alexander Ovechkin is rocking a killer mustache these days. Perhaps not as good as Leo Komarov, who’s still looking great as of his latest piano peformance, but respectable nonetheless.
  • I think you are right about the last minute changes. Winnik is better at playing his off-wing than booth. Because of winnik’s play style. I think booth will play on the left wing.

    James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
    Leo Komarov – Nazem Kadri – Mike Santorelli
    Joffrey Lupul – Peter Holland – David Clarkson
    David Booth – Trevor Smith – Daniel Winnik

    Dion Phaneuf – Cody Franson
    Jake Gardiner – Korbinian Holzer
    Morgan Rielly – Stephane Robidas

    Other than that – the lines seem alright. I hope we play bi tonight!