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Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

LGD: New Year’s Eve against a New Year Team

The Leafs will take on the Vegas Golden Knights on New Year’s Eve Day, at 3:30 pm ET.

An interesting way to end the year. This game will feature one of the six most historic teams in the NHL, against a team who has only been around since September.

Lines

The lines for Vegas have not been updated. Keep an eye on them here at DailyFaceoff.com.

For the Leafs lines, we have:

Preview

For the Leafs, the lineup will not change from the previous game against Colorado except that Andersen will start.

The Vegas Golden Knights are a completely different animal than the team the Leafs last faced,

the Colorado Avalanche. Largely a one-line team featuring MacKinnon, the Avalanche posed a tough challenge to the Rielly-Hainsey pairing and the Kadri-less shutdown line to keep them in check. Vegas, on the other hand, will pose a challenge to the fringes of the Leafs roster. They’re probably the most balanced team in the NHL, with 4 good lines and 3 good pairings, but none of them ‘great’. The top parts of the Leafs’ roster will not face as tough a match-up challenge, but the 4th line and 3rd pairing will be facing tougher competition than they’re used to.

The key for the Leafs will be trying to maximize the Matthews and Bozak lines to try to offensively overpower the Knights, and not sweat about match-ups. You’re basically facing the same strength of offense no matter what line Vegas has out there.

Vegas is essentially healthy, and will not be an easy opponent. The Knights and Leafs are pretty equal opponents in the statistics. “Adjusted” CF% and xGF% from Corsica are within 0.5% of each other. The Leafs have benefited from better shooting percentage and save percentage, and but somehow Vegas sits higher in the standings. Vegas, much to everyone’s surprise, is a strong opponent.

One of the biggest differences is that, at 5-on-5, Vegas has a penalty differential of +26 compared to the Leafs’ -10. Getting much more powerplay time than penalty kill time is a good way to win hockey game, if you can capitalize on it. The weird thing is, though: Vegas’ special teams haven’t been any more productive/detrimental than the Leafs. They’ve both allowed 22 shorthanded goals. The Leafs actually have 1 more powerplay goal than the Knights. So special teams isn’t it either.

It’s not one-goal games. The Golden Knights are 9-2 in one-goal games. The Leafs are 9-3.

These teams are incredibly similar and it’ll be very interesting to see which comes out on top today.

THE PINT

During today’s game, The Leafs Nation is hosting a New Year’s Eve event at The Pint! Check out the details here.

Make the Pint your home for all things game day. We give away a free pound of wings during every game either home or away. 4.40$ mugs of Bud and Bud Lights.

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  • Matmarwill

    Good analysis, Ryan. Interesting how well Vegas has been put together. Perhaps the draft was too generous, though mcphee deserves a lot of credit. Leipsic is an Nhl player now on their third line. Even their waiver wire pickups are working out well (IE. Subban). I guess when you pay half a billion for club you deserve to get a decent entry draft. Leafs will have their hands full tonite.

  • Capt.Jay

    It’s 3-0 in the first. Man this team is bad. Sorry but as i watch I can’t remember watching such an unorganized mess. We will be 2 games above .500 in the last 33 games.

    I’m also not loving how beneficial the expansion draft was for Vegas.