LGD: Quality of Competition

Morgan Rielly, when asked if he talks about the playoffs given where the Leafs are right now (via NHL.com):

In meetings, no. Amongst each other at dinner, absolutely. I think if you don’t come to the rink with the attitude that you’re going to be playing in the playoffs, you’re already behind. When we go for dinner, we definitely talk about it. I check the standings every day. We definitely talk about it. I certainly do.

I also like to check the standings every once in a while, and this morning they’re telling me that, on the heels of another Bruins loss, the Leafs now sit three points back of third in the Atlantic with four games in hand (though it’s really Ottawa that’s more likely the sitting duck). They head into Washington tonight to go up against one of the best, and stingiest teams in the league. 

The Caps have given up the fewest goals against in the conference, and rank fourth overall in Corsi Against per 60 minutes. To go on the road and get these two points is going to be difficult, but it’s a good measuring stick for this Leafs team that has recently been doing a nice job of taking care of teams they should beat. Now they need to get another win against a team they shouldn’t.

THE LEAFS

Nothing new here, Babcock is just going with what’s been working. Something to note, aside from Matthews’ dominance, is Connor Brown’s seven points over this five game winning streak. It’ll be interesting to see how long he sticks on that line. Obviously nothing but good things so far.

THE CAPS

Like I mentioned at the top, the Caps are sound defensively and are among the best teams in the league, even if they’re not quite there in the standings yet with the leaders of their division. They’ve only given up 78 goals-against so far this season, with just the Dubnyk-led Wild surrendering fewer (76). The high-scoring Leafs did put up four on them the last time these two teams played, but it was against a tired Caps team visiting Toronto. We should expect things to be tighter this go round.

STARTING GOALTENDERS

Holtby (0.929 save-percentage) has been confirmed to go for the Caps by our friends at Daily Faceoff. Toronto hasn’t confirmed their starter yet, but it’s reasonable to assume Andersen (0.924) gets the net.

NUMBERS

TOR WSH
Wins 17 22
Points Per Game 1.14 1.36
Power Play 19.6% (12th)   16.7% (18th) 
Penalty Kill 85.2% (6th) 87.3% (3rd)
Score-Adjusted Corsi     51.9% (11th) 53.4% (4th)

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR

mtws

Game goes 7:00pm EST, Leafs regional coverage on TSN4. 

  • LukeDaDrifter

    The last time we played the Caps, Babcock had the home ice advantage and was able to get Kadri out against Ovechkin for most of the game. Also the Capitals penalty kill haven’t allowed a power play goal in their last seven games.

    • Harte of a Lion

      So far so good Luke, they are playing with confidence and drive. Still making a few bone head plays but that’s to be expected with 9 rookies dressing. Matthews, Hyman, Brown, Nylander, Marner, Carrick, Gauthier, Soshnikov and Zaitsev. That’s a core you can get excited about.
      That pass from Matthews to Uncle Leo was sick. The nicest of his Leaf career to date

      • jimithy

        Trouble is, the bone head plays are not being made by those rookies. The bone head plays are being made by the “Waffle era Five”, Rielly, JVR, Bozak, Gardiner and Kadri. That’s the core that consistently lets everyone down.