The Toronto Maple Leafs are in Vancouver tonight, where they must begin games at 4:00 local time rather than the customary 7:00, and this annoys Vancouverites for some reason. Vancouver finds ways to be annoyed by Toronto, just as Toronto likes to be annoyed by Vancouver, despite nobody in either of these two cities ever displaying evidence they’ve been to the other.
The two hockey teams don’t have a rivalry. Technically, they used to be in the same Conference, and they once played a playoff series. They don’t play enough to have any sort of animosity between the two teams, and the only reason I can think of that the Canucks are retiring Pavel Bure’s number tonight is that it will be the national broadcast game.
By the way, Pavel Bure was great. He’s the reason a lot of kids born in the late 1980s in Vancouver (pictured above) became hockey fans, and the early 1990s Canucks teams practically saved the club after stagnant attendance in the 80s. Everybody was just tired of getting their asses kicked in by Edmonton and Calgary every night. The Canucks are retiring No. 10 (and they’ll probably ignore that brief period of time that Bure wore No. 96) and finally recognizing the first homegrown Hall of Famer in franchise history.
And then they’ll play the Leafs.
|Corsi Close %||43.0% (29th)||52.5% (9th)|
|5v5 GF/60||2.52 (12th)||2.49 (13th)|
|5v5 GA/60||2.06 (10th)||2.16 (12th)|
|PDO||1.041 (3rd)||1.003 (12th)|
|5v4 GF/60||8.91 (6th)||2.54 (28th)|
|5v4 SF/60||55.9 (14th)||62.2 (5th)|
|4v5 GA/60||4.08 (4th)||4.60 (5th)|
|4v5 SA/60||66.0 (27th)||46.0 (5th)|
|5v5 Penalty Diff||-13||-16|
The Canucks’ results this season have been similar to Toronto’s with the exception of the powerplay goals for. Vancouver’s powerplay has been the opposite of the Leafs penalty kill: a lot of shots, but relatively few goals. I’m going to keep saying that this is an issue, and keep suggesting that the Maple Leafs avoid taking penalties, because they’re playing with fire when they do.
And, yeah, same thing as always. Blah blah blah blah blah PDO. The point is beyond needing to be made at this point. The Canucks are a decent-enough possession team that they can roll up a lot of shots on the Leafs tonight so James Reimer is going to need be sharp, encore.
Hey, as long as the goaltending is sharp every night, no need to worry.
MAPLE LEAFS LINEUP
James van Riemsdyk – Nazem Kadri – Phil Kessel
Mason Raymond – David Bolland – David Clarkson
Nik Kulemin – Jay McClement – Joffrey Lupul
Frazer McLaren – Trevor Smith – Colton Orr
Carl Gunnarsson – Dion Phaneuf
Morgan Rielly – Cody Franson
Paul Ranger – Jake Gardiner
Carter Ashton is suspended, and Nik Kulemin seemed to think that he was going to come back, although Randy Carlyle did say Kulemin was lagging in a couple of skating drills towards the end of yesterday’s skate. I thought that the Leafs would have to make a roster move before activating Kulemin in any capacity due to the salary cap, but it’s possible to keep him inactive and roll with either seven defencemen, or get Troy Bodie in the lineup.
Possibilities abound! But, Kulemin being back should help out the penalty kill, should the team choose to activate him.
Daniel Sedin – Henrik Sedin – Ryan Kesler
Chris Higgins – Mike Santorelli – Alex Burrows
Jeremy Welsh – Brad Richardson – Zack Kassian
Tom Sestito – Darren Archibald – Yannick Weber
Jason Garrison – Alex Edler
Dan Hamhuis – Chris Tanev
Ryan Stanton – Kevin Bieksa
Back in 2011, the Canucks basically had a first line and two second lines, but locking themselves into that core long-term has had hilarious results. Without the cap room to keep adding pieces, you get a couple of injuries and all of a sudden you’re a team with one first line and two third lines.
The locals were pretty bearish on the Canucks’ prospect at centre this season, but both Santorelli and Richardson have played pretty well for now.
Vancouver will have Roberto Luongo, Toronto will have James Reimer, presumably. Darn days with no morning skates. Reimer had the home net in yesterday’s skate and has been the hot hand of late.
The Leafs and the Canucks play at 7:00 Eastern on CBC.