The Leafs host the Kings on the traditionally untraditional Sunday 5 p.m. slot. The hottest team in the NHL, the Leafs are looking to win five straight for the first time all year, but have their work cut out for them on the second day of a back-to-back.
The last time these two teams faced off, James Reimer put on a show in relief of Jonathan Bernier, stopping all 31 shots he faced in the Leafs 3-2 victory on the road where they began down 2-0. But if there’s any team that’s better at systematically pounding the crap out of your team until they finally eke out the one-goal victory, it would have to be the LA Kings. It might not always look pretty, but two Stanley Cup rings in the last four seasons proves they’re doing something right.
Projected Lineup via DailyFaceoff.com
Suprisingly, the Leafs come into this game with more points than the Kings, with less games played. However, the defending Stanley Cup champions should not be taken lightly, of course. I think we all know standings at this point of the season don’t always accurately reflect a team’s true value, with LA having one of the best crafted lineups in the entire league.
Oddly, while their possession stats sit within the league’s top 5, their defensive game hasn’t been very strong this year (relative to a typical LA team) by a number of metrics. They’ve been giving up the 11th most shots in the league per game, and give up the 8th most shots/ 60 minutes at even strength.
— J. Yunger (@JYungerBespoke) December 9, 2014
James Reimer might be the only player in the NHL who likes back-to-backs, because it means he gets to play. That’s pretty sad once you think about it. You’ll see him next weekend against either the Flyers on Saturday, or against Blackhawks on Sunday. (I told you Sunday was a hockey day).
— Chase Chambers (@Soless_chase) May 14, 2013
Jonathan “Box of Chocolates” Quick has to be the strangest goalie in the league. He’s been able to garner a reputation as an elite goaltender, though a large enough quantity of stats say otherwise. Yet when he’s at his best, Quick’s ceiling is as high as anyone’s, but he’s not always there. Quick’s currently posting a .931 save percentage, good enough for 3rd in the league, yet was pedestrian at just .911 in last spring’s Stanley Cup victory. In the two regular seasons prior, Quick posted save percentages of .902 and .915, albeit in limited time. Averaged out, and you get a career .916 save percentage, lower than Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier, who LA parted ways with, and only 2 percentage points higher than James Reimer, who’s making $3.5 million less per year. Thankfully for Quick, he’ll be making $5.8 million through 2023, as his flashes of brillaince haven proven impressive enough to earn elite goalie money (and a tattoo on some dude’s body).
What to look out for:
- Lopsided shot totals. In the 1-1 split of the series last year, LA outshot Toronto 41-29 in their loss, while Toronto (somehow) outshot LA 39-23 in their 3-2 loss earlier in the year. If I was a betting man, it’ll probably be Toronto getting outshot again this time.
- An upset LA Kings squad. On Friday, LA dominated the Montreal Canadiens, firing 46 shots on goal, yet gave up 6 goals on 20 shots on backup Martin Jones for a 6-2 loss. Hockey’s weird like that.
- Darryl Sutter’s infamous facial expressions and deadpan interview quotes. If you’ve got the time, he’s usually got something memorable after every game.
- Did you know Bernier used to play for the Kings?