The Tavares line needs to end their offensive drought with a big game against the Flames

Photo credit:Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
1 month ago
Same old, same old, for the Toronto Maple Leafs after their opening game of this road trip as they lost to the Edmonton Oilers 4-2 after holding another multi-goal lead. Tuesday night’s loss to the hottest team in the NHL now makes it four consecutive losses for the Maple Leafs after starting the new year on a four-game winning streak, albeit three of those wins came against Anaheim and San Jose.
However, things don’t get easier for Toronto on this road trip as they take on the Calgary Flames tonight for the second and final meeting of the season. Although when these two teams played earlier in the season, Calgary struggled out of the gates with a 4-7-1 record, they have since gone 17-11-3, including entering tonight’s matchup on a four-game winning streak, their longest of the season.
For Toronto, the main concern heading into game two on this road trip is to hold a lead if they have one. There have been too many instances this season, especially on this four-game losing streak, where they have started games well and got an early lead just for them to blow it in the final 30 minutes.
Tonight, as mentioned, won’t be an easy task by any means. Calgary has played well over the last month and a half, and their record since their loss to Toronto in early November speaks for itself. However, for the Maple Leafs, there is one line, in particular, that they need more from. The second line of Matthew Knies, John Tavares and William Nylander needs to be better.
Although Knies is new to this line after spending an extended period on the first line with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner and a quick stop on the fourth line a couple of games ago, he has struggled to produce offensively over the past month and a bit. Over his last 21 games, the 21-year-old has only two goals and four assists for six points, with two points coming in the same game in mid-December.
But it’s not just the rookie who has been lacking production lately. The team captain has been fighting it for a while now, and it’s evident. After a hot start to the season with 29 points in 28 games, Tavares has just five points in his last 14 games (three goals and two assists), and watching him play nightly, you can see something isn’t right. His foot speed seems to have gotten worse, and if you add that to his career-low shooting percentage (7.9%), he’s going to struggle.
Although Tavares’ winger has been the most productive and consistent Maple Leaf this season, Nylander has gone pointless in four straight games after signing his mega eight-year, $92M extension ahead of the Sharks game at home on January 5th. With five points between the three in the team’s last five games, they need to start appearing on the scoresheet if this team wants to win games.

Pregame details:

Toronto Maple Leafs’ lineup:

Pontus Holmberg – Auston Matthews – Mitch Marner
Matthew Knies – John Tavares – William Nylander
Tyler Bertuzzi – Max Domi – Calle Jarnkrok
Bobby McMann – David Kampf – Noah Gregor
Morgan Rielly – TJ Brodie
Simon Benoit – Jake McCabe
Mark Giordano – Timothy Liljegren

Calgary Flames’ lineup:

Jonathan Huberdeau – Elias Lindholm – Yegor Sharangovich
Connor Zary – Nazem Kadri – Martin Pospisil
Andrew Mangiapane – Mikael Backlund -Blake Coleman
AJ Greer – Adam Ruzicka – Dillon Dube
Mackenzie Weegar – Rasmus Andersson
Noah Hanifin – Chris Tanev
Jordan Oesterle – Nick DeSimone

Projected goalies:

Martin Jones (TOR) vs Dan Vladar (CGY)


TSN4, 9:00 pm ET/6:00 pm PT
(Stats from Hockey-Reference.com)
(Projected lineups from DailyFaceoff.com)

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