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LGD: The Leafs Visit Steel City

There is no reason for all Leafs fans to continue to freak out about losing two in a row the way the Leafs did – but then again, this game is probably the most important game of the season so far.

The Leafs are coming off a game against the Dallas Stars where they got the massive majority of scoring chances, but the puck just wasn’t bouncing their way. Now they make their way to Pittsburgh to face a Penguins team that lost two games in a row to the New York Islanders.

That is ugly, but just before that, they won two games against the Oilers and Flames with the combined score of 14-1. The Penguins forwards have been consistently dominant in this young season.

Leafs Lines

LW C RW
Zach Hyman
ZACH HYMAN
John Tavares
JOHN TAVARES
Mitch Marner
MITCH MARNER
Patrick Marleau
PATRICK MARLEAU
Nazem Kadri
NAZEM KADRI
Kasperi Kapanen
KASPERI KAPANEN
Andreas Johnsson
ANDREAS JOHNSSON
Par Lindholm
PAR LINDHOLM
Connor Brown
CONNOR BROWN
Tyler Ennis
TYLER ENNIS
Frederik Gauthier
FREDERIK GAUTHIER
Josh Leivo
JOSH LEIVO
LD RD
Morgan Rielly
MORGAN RIELLY
Ron Hainsey
RON HAINSEY
Jake Gardiner
JAKE GARDINER
Nikita Zaitsev
NIKITA ZAITSEV
Travis Dermott
TRAVIS DERMOTT
Igor Ozhiganov
IGOR OZHIGANOV

There are no changes from the forward group for tonight’s game in Pittsburgh. Even without Matthews and Nylander, the Leafs forwards absolutely dominated the Stars in their previous game. Individually, according to MoneyPuck, Patrick Marleau had a total of 1.39 expected goals, leading the team in that game.

All forwards but Marner, Hyman, and Brown, were clear above the 50% mark in the expected goals share in the game against the Stars.

Trevor Moore was called up for the roadtrip, but will not make his NHL debut tonight against the Penguins.

On the blueline, Justin Holl is coming out of the game for the return of Ozhiganov. Considering that this is such an important game internally, it’s understandable that Babcock goes with the more familiar player in this situation. The Dermott-Ozhiganov pairing has been outstanding so far this season, among pairs that have played at least 50 minutes so far, this pairing ranks 9th in CF% at 5v5 (60.87) and 30th in xGF% at 5v5 (56.55).

Penguins Lines

LW C RW
Jake Guentzel
JAKE GUENTZEL
Sidney Crosby
SIDNEY CROSBY
Dominik Simon
DOMINIK SIMON
Carl Hagelin
CARL HAGELIN
Evgeni Malkin
EVGENI MALKIN
Phil Kessel
PHIL KESSEL
Bryan Rust
BRYAN RUST
Riley Sheahan
RILEY SHEAHAN
Patric Hornqvist
PATRIC HORNQVIST
Derek Grant
DEREK GRANT
Matt Cullen
MATT CULLEN
Daniel Sprong
DANIEL SPRONG
LD RD
Brian Dumoulin
BRIAN DUMOULIN
Kris Letang
KRIS LETANG
Olli Maatta
OLLI MAATTA
Jamie Oleksiak
JAMIE OLEKSIAK
Jack Johnson
JACK JOHNSON
Chad Ruhwedel
CHAD RUHWEDEL

Everyone knows what is coming from the Penguins forwards. They are insanely deep and will give any team a run for their money. Even without Derrick Brassard, the center depth is still mostly positive – when you can play two hall-of-famers for more than two-thirds of the game, you will be alright.

Young Daniel Sprong has been outstanding in the AHL for the Penguins, but has only been able to average 8:31 TOI in the NHL. Still acquiring four assists in ten games is pretty impressive for a player getting so little time on the ice.

On the blueline, the Penguins are not so deep but still are pretty effective. The top pairing of Dumoulin-Letang has been honestly incredible and that is to be expected, really. A 55.18 CF% at 5v5 and a 53.33 xGF% at 5v5 is great when you’re always facing the top-6 of the opposition.

Starting Goaltenders

Frederik Andersen

Andersen will be making his seventh start in a row for the Leafs. He has certainly bounced back from his not-so-great start to the season, making his save percentage on the season raise back up to .917, just one hundredth below his career average.

Matt Murray

Murray has had a rough start to his season. In seven games, he has a .897 sv% and a -2.51 goals saved above average. His numbers have most likely been brought down by a terrible game against the Islanders last week, only saving five of nine shots against and getting the yank halfway through the game.

Puck drop is at 7:00pm EST and will be on CBC and Sportsnet for Hockey Night in Canada – NHL Network as well, but who cares.



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  • Matmarwill

    Today several nhl rumor sites are claiming that nylander wants no less than 7m for seven years. I say ‘Dubas, sign him right now!!’. Willie will definitely be worth that money down the road, and this is only slightly more than Pasternak, but I’d be willing to pay a slight premium for Willie.

    Now, if this is not true, and Willie wants more than this, then I would take the Pesce trade from the canes, though you’d have to throw in a first rounder and a decent prospect.

    One way or the other, let’ s flush this toilet, please!