Leafs get Kraken on five-game roadie: Leafs Tailgate
Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
By Nick Alberga9 months ago
Anyone remember what happened on January 5th at Scotiabank Arena?
If you don’t, let me refresh your memory: The red-hot Seattle Kraken laid a 5-1 beatdown on the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Well, tonight at Climate Pledge Arena, not only will the Leafs (36-15-8) kick off a five-game road trip, but they’ll get a chance to avenge arguably their ugliest loss of the season when they visit the Kraken (32-20-6). Toronto, who’s won three of four since acquiring Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari, are coming off a 2-1 OT victory over Minnesota on Friday night. William Nylander notched his league tying third OT winner of the season. Yeah, he’s pretty good at hockey.
Meantime, despite still being in their infancy, Seattle has been in a playoff spot for quite some time now. They’re currently occupying the first wildcard spot in the Western Conference. That said, the Kraken are 0-for-2 this week. They fell 4-0 in San Jose on Monday before dropping a wild one, 6-5, to Boston on Thursday night.
Toronto took both meetings with Seattle in their inaugural season.
TIME: 7 PM ET (Sportsnet Ontario)
TOR Ilya Samsonov – LIKELY (21-7-2, 2.35, 0.916, 3 SO)
SEA Philipp Grubauer – LIKELY 8-10-3, 2.97, 0.896)
PACE SETTER FOR ROADIE
And so, the Leafs kick off a lengthy five-game road trip with a stop in Seattle. With that in mind, I think it’s important to set a tone and mood for the trip. On top of that, this could be a bit of a trap game with the excitement of the three games ahead in Western Canada looming. It’s another battle between two teams currently in a playoff spot. On top of that, the Leafs should be prepared for what Seatttle can throw their way. As mentioned, the Kraken wiped the floor with them in early January. I love revenge. It’s so sweet.
NEW TOP SIX?
I hinted at the possibility after last game, and at practice on Saturday, we saw a modified look to the top-six. In case you missed it, Sheldon Keefe flipped William Nylander and Mitch Marner once again. Undoubtedly, it’s a tinker job with sights of getting Auston Matthews going. He’s very quiet, especially since the big trade with St. Louis nine days ago. The way Mitch Marner’s been playing, tonight could be the night for No. 34. Additionally, we all know what the Tavares/Nylander combo can bring to the table, now you insert Ryan O’Reilly into that equation as well. Can’t wait to see that trio go to work!
DEFENSIVE BATTLE AHEAD?
I know the first game with Seattle was nuts and the Leafs enjoy the run and go style, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see a game similar to the one against Minnesota tonight. Firstly, the Kraken are coming off back-to-back losses where they were outscored 10-4. When that happens, good teams have the tendency of locking things down defensively. At the very least, I think offence will be hard to come by. Toronto, behind another solid effort from Ilya Samsonov, put on a clinic on Friday night. I’m still having flashbacks to the first period. Gross.
(As of Noon EDT)
Auston Matthews Anytime Goal (-120)
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