Maple Leafs look to clean up defensive mistakes

Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
6 months ago
It wasn’t a pretty ending to the game on Thursday night for the Toronto Maple Leafs. After leading 3-1 early in the second period, thanks to two goals from Auston Matthews just 2:14 apart, costly mistakes from the Maple Leafs resulted in the New York Islanders to hang around in the game and ultimately come back to not only tie it but win it in overtime.
After sweeping their California trip with ease, topped with a dominating effort against the Sharks at home, Toronto entered UBS Arena with a four-game winning streak while playing exceptional hockey, especially defensively. Well, mistakes crept up in their game again against the Islanders, quickly hurting them and ending their winning streak at four.
Tonight, they begin a tough stretch of hockey, which starts with a date against the Colorado Avalanche, before hosting the Detroit Red Wings tomorrow night and then their annual Western Canada/Seattle road trip to Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver and Seattle. After that road trip, they return home to take on the surprising Winnipeg Jets and then, like their recent games against the Sharks, fly back to Winnipeg to close out the home and home with them.
If there was ever a point in the season for Toronto to prove to everybody that they are for real, it might be this eight-game stretch leading up to the All-Star weekend. Before the season, if you read those eight teams above, you probably shrug it off. Well, Colorado remains one of the best teams in the league, Detroit has taken a step forward this season, Edmonton has won nine in a row, Calgary has its ups and downs, Vancouver has won four in a row and sits second in the league, Seattle has come out of nowhere, winning eight in a row, and Winnipeg, shocking everybody, has won eight in a row and sit first overall in the league standings.
After a 3-1 blown lead against the Islanders from mistakes that are easily preventable, like Giordano’s failed clearing attempt on the tying goal on the power play or McCabe’s icing in overtime and missed assignment following the defensive zone face-off, the Maple Leafs will look to clean up that mess with some tough competition ahead on their schedule.
Although Toronto is 4-0-1 in their last five games, Florida has won nine in a row, and despite Boston losing three in a row, they were all in overtime/shootout, giving them a loser point. The Maple Leafs remain in third place in the Atlantic Division (50 points), six points back of the Panthers (56 points) with two games in hand and seven points back of the Bruins (57 points) with two games in hand.

Pregame details:

Maple Leafs’ lineup:

Matthew Knies – Auston Matthews – Mitch Marner
Tyler Bertuzzi – John Tavares – William Nylander
Pontus Holmberg – Max Domi – Calle Jarnkrok
Bobby McMann – David Kampf – Noah Gregor
Morgan Rielly – TJ Brodie
Simon Benoit – Jake McCabe
Mark Giordano – Timothy Liljegren
Lineup note: Nick Robertson is projected to be a scratch for the fourth time in the last five games, as it looks like Sheldon Keefe is going with the same lineup.

Avalanche’s lineup:

Jonathan Drouin – Nathan MacKinnon – Mikko Rantanen
Valeri Nichushkin – Ross Colton – Logan O’Connor
Andrew Cogliano – Ryan Johansen – Joel Kiviranta
Kurtis MacDermid – Fredrik Olofsson – Jason Folin
Devon Toews – Cale Makar
Jack Johnson – Samuel Girard
Caleb Jones – Sam Malinski

Projected goalies:

Martin Jones (TOR) vs Alexander Georgiev (COL)


Sportsnet, 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT
(Stats from Hockey-Reference.com)
(Projected lineups from DailyFaceoff.com)

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