Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Samsonov returns as the Maple Leafs host some familiar faces on the Predators
By Joseph Zita2 months ago
It was an eventful win in Ottawa Thursday night over the Senators for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the team now shifts its focus to tonight as they play host to the Nashville Predators for the second and final time this season.
Maple Leafs’ lineup:
Heading into their last game against Ottawa, Toronto was dealing with a couple of injuries, a couple of players under the weather, and they finished the game with their starting goalie leaving with an apparent lower-body injury, forcing Martin Jones, the team’s third-string goalie, to close out the final nine minutes of the game.
Today, we got some clarity on the injury that Joseph Woll suffered in the third period against Ottawa. According to Maple Leafs PR, it is a high ankle sprain, and he is currently listed as week-to-week.
With that news of Woll out of the way and the recent absences of injuries and illness, here were the lines at the morning skate today for the Maple Leafs.
By the look of these lines, they will be projected to roll out the same lineup tonight that they did against the Senators Thursday night. However, with Woll sidelined with his injury, Samsonov has returned to the lineup and will be tonight’s projected starter, given he was the first goalie off the ice this morning.
William Lagesson, who didn’t play last game, was not on the ice this morning, according to David Alter, and it doesn’t appear he will play tonight, causing Max Lajoie to play in consecutive games for the first time this season.
These two teams already played each other earlier in the season when they matched up in Nashville in late October when the Predators walked away with the 3-2 overtime win. In that game, Ryan O’Reilly had his revenge against his former team, scoring two goals – both on the power play – but Luke Schenn, the former 5th overall pick of Toronto in 2008, missed that game due to an injury.
Tonight, both former Maple Leafs are projected to suit up against their former team again in Toronto for the first time since being eliminated by the Florida Panthers in game 5 of the second round last playoffs.
There weren’t any practice lines for the Predators, so here were their lines in their previous game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night.
The Predators are one of the hottest teams in the NHL. They are winners of three in a row heading into tonight and have won eight of their last ten games over some pretty good teams. After a slow start to the season, they hold a record of 14-12-0 and sit 5th in the Central division, which is good enough for the second wild card spot, one point up on the Blues and four points back of the Jets for third in the division.
When you look at their roster, it may not look like a team all that dangerous, but they have a couple of players who are off to hot starts this season, and when you have one of the best goalies in the league on your team, despite a down year thus far, you have a chance to win every night.
Players to watch:
Tonight, Ilya Samsonov will have my attention. He’s returning to the lineup after missing a couple of games due to illness, and despite a record of 4-1-3, he hasn’t played his best hockey this season, and we all know that. A 3.58 goals against average and an .878 save percentage won’t win you many games, but if there’s optimism for tonight’s game, it’s the fact that Samsonov has had two good games in his last three starts (.939 SV% and .931 SV%).
Another stat on Samsonov, according to StatMuse.com, is he has a 3-0-0 record at home this season but has an .851 save percentage. On the road, he is 1-1-3 but has better numbers, posting an .896 save percentage. Weird.
I mentioned special teams as an area to watch for in the last game, and tonight, I’m doing the same. The power play has been abysmal since Toronto returned from Sweden. They are just 1-for-16 (6%) and not generating at the same rate, or close to it as they were at the start of the season.
You can watch the Maple Leafs and Predators tonight in action on Sportsnet. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT.
(Stats from Hockey-Reference.com)
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