LGD: Kings In The North

If you thought the Leafs had trouble hosting the last California team to swing through Toronto, wait ’till you get a load of these guys. The Kings are one of the hottest teams in the league right now, with a 7-1-2 record in their past 10 games. They are, once again, looking like a serious Stanley Cup contender.

Oh, and the Leafs are tied for dead last. Yikes.

The Leafs

Whelp, Shawn Matthias’s stint on the top line was short-lived. Your number one unit tonight will be old pals James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak lining up with P.A. Kessel-lite. That second line though of Michael Grabner, Nazem Kadri and Leo Komarov could be a ton of fun to watch tonight – that’s a lot of speed right there that could cause some problems for the Kings. Ah, who am I kidding? It’s the Kings. This could turn into a squash match.

Leafs

The Kings

There are few players that I enjoy nerding out over than Anze Kopitar. The guy is a stud, but it’s terrible that Los Angeles has apparently locked him up in a new eight-year deal. See, teams don’t win Stanley Cups with star players – they win them with effective players on entry-level contracts. We should honestly just start a petition that forces 28-year olds into retirement. Like c’mon, man. You’re so old and you probably smell it too. Make way for hot freshness.

Kings

Starting Goaltenders

Jonathan Bernier is back in net tonight because he’s the best option the Leafs have right now with James Reimer and Garret Sparks both on the mend. In fact, Antoine Bibeau is up from the minors and will be in the backup role tonight. It’s a messy situation, but maybe a visit from his old team is the kind of kick that Bernier needs to get focused again and play some good hockey.

For the Kings, it will be Jonathan Quick. He’s elite or he’s not very good, depending on who you ask – though his .920 SV% and 2.19 GAA look pretty nice. I’m sure the Leafs would prefer the not very good Jonathan Quick if beggars can be choosers.

What to Watch For…

  • Watch out for Leafs leading scorer James van Riemsdyk with 20 points in 30 games (tied for 86th in the NHL)
  • Shawn Matthias, Byron Froese and Brad Boyes look like two-thirds of a really good fourth line!!!
    • HINT HINT MICHAEL BABCOCK
  • Antoine Bibeau’s NHL debut, probably?
  • STAN

    I think the Leafs may surprise by keeping this one close.

    Big question? Can Bernier look like a real NHL goaltender and can the Leafs speed overcome LA’s smarts?

  • Gary Empey

    Has anyone else noticed that lately, Babcock had to open up the offense (delayed backchecking)to produce some much needed goal scoring. When he did opposing teams started to get much better scoring chances on us?

    It must be hard for him to get just the right balance.

    @ MatsSundin#13.. My guess is that Marincin is stronger physically. The “Lucic effect”

    • MatsSundin#13

      That would make sense about Marincin, but I have wondered the same thing about the defense suddenly giving up heaps of grade A chances to opposing teams. The Leafs have played good opponents, but something seems to be off nonetheless. Maybe they’ve lost confidence because of the goaltending meltdown?

      • Gary Empey

        Looks like Babcock has them going to the net a lot more. This gives the opposition better break outs. The forwards are now caught up ice more, when the breakout comes. Start of the year he had forwards all ready to back-check, but Leafs were not producing any goals. That back-check really helps the defense.

  • jimithy

    If Bernier is the Leafs best option than somebody upstairs has not been doing their job. Tonight it will take three shots to make the red light behind him light up for the first time.