LGD: Whalers Redux


Just a couple months ago, the Islanders were written off the worst team in the eastern conference, and it felt like essentially everything was going wrong for the whole franchise with added talks of venue problems and the looming contract John Tavares will need. Those last two points still stand, but the team itself has been playing some better hockey over the last little while (or at least getting better results) and actually sit just three points back of Toronto with the same amount of games played. Like the Leafs, they could be in the thick of the playoff hunt when things get down to the wire, so tonight’s game in Brooklyn has plenty of importance behind it.

The biggest part of the Isles’ success has been the play of Thomas Greiss, as he now boasts a 0.924 sv% on the season, good for top five in the league for goaltenders with 20-or-more starts. Otherwise this isn’t a particularly strong club, hovering near the bottom of the league in terms of shot-attempt metrics all season. Tavares still leads the charge, obviously, but he’s being out-scored by rookie Mitch Marner (44 to 43) this season when it comes to simple point production. Toronto should have the edge in talent here, no question. 

THE LEAFS

THE ISLES

STARTING GOALTENDERS

No surprises here. Andersen (0.916 sv%) goes for the Leafs, Greiss gets the net for New York. 

QUICK NUMBERS

TOR NYI
Wins 24 22
Points-Percentage .570 .540
Powerplay 23.5%  15.5%
Penalty Kill 83.7%  81.0%
Score-adjusted Corsi  51.5% (7th)  47.7% (25th) 

WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR

The Leafs are coming off a wild win in Boston, snapping a three-game losing streak and getting back to what they do best: Score a boatload of goals. Greiss has been incredible this season, but his last outing was a shelling to the Wings. It’ll be interesting to see if Toronto can get to him and continue to get their offence back on track. Speaking of offence, Marner has pulled to the outright lead for rookie scoring thanks to now piling up 31 assists. He could get into the top ten league-wide in that regard with a couple helpers this evening. 

  • LukeWarmWater

    Stan they absolutely have to tighten up defensively, stay away from lazy penalties and Andersen has to get back to the form of the two shut outs in a row. Plus the defence and forwards have to hammer that puck out of their zone. I don’t mean icing it as on a number of nights we have been poor in the face off zone, but none of these gentle pushes of the puck with the stick. Drill that sucker off the boards to get it by the defenceman on the ricochet.

    • Harte of a Lion

      Luke revisited, how is the weather in lovely B.C.? I’d like to comment about the peanaly killers “hammering the puck out of their zone” and I’d tend to agree however there was one play on the boards during a Bruins pp (Bozak’s phantom interference on Vatrano) where Hyman tried to play it off the boards past the d-man which would have given him a potential breakaway. I have seen him make that play all season but that time it didn’t work and shortly thereafter Krug stepped out from the corner and beat Andersen with a shot Freddy should have had. If Hyman gets that puck down the ice, the penalty killers get a change and Krug doesn’t get that shot. There were a number of breakdowns on that penalty kill and though the Leafs players had been on the ice for 1:33 when Krug scored, the worst was Marincin backing away from Krug to cover the front of the net even though Smith was in position to cover Marchand. Marincin allowed Krug to step out from the corner and drive to the net unobstructed. Though I have been a Marincin supporter since he was acquired from the Oilers, Hunwick doesn’t make that mistake on the pk.
      Everyone bitches about the “Hunlak” but Polak and Hunwick are very good penalty killers and are a main reason the Leafs pk has been so good this season.
      It’s also hard to remember that Hyman, though 24 is still a rookie with 66 total NHL games and only 59 AHL games while Brown who just turned 23 has played only 57 (NHL) and 110 (AHL)

      When you look at Babcock’s second year players, Kadri, JVR, Bozak, Gardiner, Rielly, Polak, Hunwick and even Uncle Leo, they are all substantially better at implementing his systems. Kadri stated that it’s taken some time however the players who suffered through the 15/16 season have learned where to be on the ice without thinking.

      Imagine what Matthews, Marner, Nylander, Brown, Hyman, Soshnikov, Zaitsev, Martin and all the other first year Leafs will be capable of next season. I’m not speaking solely the potential to outscore any team, I’m Suggesting those 6-5 games become 6-0 or 6-1.
      It will be wonderful to make the playoffs this year as the experience will be invaluable to the entire roster’s growth however, whether they make it or not, this team has the pieces to threaten for a cup for years to come once they all learn the coaches expectations and implement them.

  • Stan Smith

    I really do expect the Leafs to be better defensively tonight. After playing well enough to knock Hunwick out of the lineup when Rielly returned, Marincin was a one man disaster against Boston. I expect just replacing him with Hunwick will improve their D.

  • LukeDaDrifter

    Islanders have been the 3rd hottest team in the East in the last ten games.

    Are we going to be playing the rest of the season on the road?

    Travis Hamonic – Cal Clutterbuck – Stephen Gionta are not listed as being dressed tonight.

    PS… I hope we can have the post game report fairly soon after the game ends. I know a lot of us fans like to comment while the adrenaline is still pumping…….. Adrenaline: (A stress hormone that quickens the heart beat, strengthens the force of the heart’s contraction, and opens up the bronchioles in the lungs.)

  • LukeDaDrifter

    Has anyone noticed the five hole is now bigger with the change over to the slimmer pants, I lot of pucks are now slipping through that used to be stopped,

  • LukeDaDrifter

    The Leafs have reportedly been receiving interest on the trade market
    according to a report from the Fourth Period, and that interest is
    focused on three members of their core group of forwards. The team has
    taken calls regarding the availability of Tyler Bozak, James van Riemsdyk and Nazem Kadri and it sounds like general manager Lou Lamoriello is at least listening.