After succesfully conquering perhaps the scariest collection of NHL players to ever take the ice on Tuesday night, the Toronto Maple Leafs face a new challenge this Halloween.
Today, the Leafs are looking to exorcise a demon from last year’s season. In three games in 2013-14, the Blue Jackets beat the Leafs 5-2, 6-0, and 2-1.
However, it looks like this game’s basically decided already. The Leafs come in hot on a very strong one game winning streak, while Columbus comes in with three consecutive three-goal losses to Los Angeles, Anaheim, and Ottawa, respectively.
In all seriousness, Columbus has been hurting heavily due to a slew of injuries, currently having ten players out of their lineup, most notably starting goalie Sergei Bobrovsky out 1-2 weeks with a broken finger. A playoff team last season, the Jackets currently sit ahead of just Carolina in a very competitive Metropolitan Division at 4-5-0.
The Leafs, on the other hand, aren’t doing a whole lot better. At 4-4-1, Toronto is tied for sixth in the Atlantic Divsion.
The first nine games of a season might give you a picture of a hockey team, but it really doesn’t tell you a whole lot. For the fancy stat folk, Columbus comes with a 49.3 Corsi % at 5 on 5 and a PDO of .977, while the, while Toronto comes in with a 48.5% Corsi and a PDO of .999. Columbus has scored seven power play goals and given up five shorthanded, while Toronto’s netted six on the man advantage and given up four while down a man. (via puckalytics.com).
By any measure, these appear to be two relatively even, if not great, hockey teams in the early season.
With the teams being two of eight playing on Halloween night, the players had to get their fix in a little early this year. If you read Justin’s post from yesterday, you’d see Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf picked Spider-man as his chosen get-up for this year. However, here’s a few of the players from both teams who’ve gotten into the spirit.
From last year, Morgan Rielly and Carter Ashton went out as a pair of basketball players, wearing retro Larry Bird and Mike Bibby Jerseys. After sitting out all nine games to start the season, perhaps Ashton’s more likely to work his way into the Raptors lineup.
Leafs goalie James Reimer and his wife April chose the hottest news anchoring couple out there. Word on the street is April got tired of him wearing a Transformers mask every year.
— April Reimer (@april_reimer) October 30, 2014
Not to be outdone, Jonathan Bernier and his wife Martine got quite the makeup job done.
Over to the Blue Jackets, Scott Hartnell blatantly stole Ashton’s idea. While perhaps lacking in originality, Hartnell’s execution is stellar.
— Scott Hartnell (@Hartsy43) October 30, 2014
Meanwhile, Cam Atkinson is going as- oh wait, that’s just his face.
— Cam Atkinson (@CamAtkinson13) October 25, 2014
Here’s to better days for your face, Cam.
THE MAPLE LEAFS
Tonight will be curious as to whether the coaching staff will stick to this lineup or shuffle it around. While the top line had a great game against Buffalo, there’s a number of factors that’ll likely contribute as to whether they’ll stay together.
Projected lines via Daily Faceoff
THE BLUE JACKETS
As previously stated, this isn’t exactly the best Blue Jackets lineup of all time. With so many players out, head coach Todd Richards has been forced to work with what’s he’s given.
Projected lines via Daily Faceoff
Sean Collins – Adam Cracknell – Jared Boll
Not exactly a Vezina winner like Sergei Bobrovsky. However, their only other option would be Anton Forsberg, who’s yet to play an NHL game.
Maybe it’s just me, but I’m pretty sure that’s where Jeffler got the idea for his latest haircut.
What to look out for:
-Ryan Johansen comes in with five goals and seven assists in nine games so far, making the most out of his freshly signed 3-year, $12 million contract. A shooting percentage of 25.0% will help contribute to the hot streak, but regardless, he’s looking good right now.
-Scott Hartnell’s posted one goal and nine assists over the same time frame in his first year as a Blue Jacket. He’s also fallen down an average of 3.88 times per game this year, according to his foundation website.
-Leo Komarov. He’s just fun to watch, as I’m sure you know.
-With Officer Sergei Bobrovsky out, look for him to be in the crowd or the press box wearing last year’s halloween hit, his cop costume.
-Lots of Leafs jerseys in the crowd. While Columbus isn’t the closest road destination, it’s just about a 7-hour drive from Toronto. From personal experience, it’s a great trip if you can make it. Expect the Tim Hortons adjacent to the arena to be full of hosers right up until puck drop.