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Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

LGD: Back-to-bounce-back

It’s Game Day! Again!

The Leafs took a disappointing loss home on Saturday night with a 5-3 decision awarded in favor of the Pittsburgh Penguins, but they’re back at it less than 24 hours later with what should, in theory, be a much easier game.

Toronto will skate out at the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on Sunday evening, taking a 6:00 PM CST puck drop against the Red Wings in hopes of bouncing back after Saturday’s poor outcome.

The bad news? It’s a back-to-back, meaning Freddie Andersen doesn’t get the nod, and it’s on the road.

The good news? Detroit has been miserable for yet another year, and sit poised to miss the postseason for their second straight spring barring a massive reversal in fortune.

Here’s what’s going down:

THE LEAFS

Zach Hyman
ZACH HYMAN
Auston Matthews
AUSTON MATTHEWS
William Nylander
WILLIAM NYLANDER
Patrick Marleau
PATRICK MARLEAU
Nazem Kadri
NAZEM KADRI
Mitch Marner
MITCH MARNER
James van Riemsdyk
JAMES VAN RIEMSDYK
Tyler Bozak
TYLER BOZAK
Connor Brown
CONNOR BROWN
Leo Komarov
LEO KOMAROV
Dominic Moore
DOMINIC MOORE
Kasperi Kapanen
KASPERI KAPANEN
Morgan Rielly
MORGAN RIELLY
Ron Hainsey
RON HAINSEY
Jake Gardiner
JAKE GARDINER
Nikita Zaitsev
NIKITA ZAITSEV
Travis Dermott
TRAVIS DERMOTT
Roman Polak
ROMAN POLAK

Travis Dermott doesn’t deserve life with Roman Polak, but he’s been doing nicely for himself, so here’s hoping he can keep that up.

Leo Komarov now seems firmly entrenched on the fourth line, which is just as well this season; he hasn’t earned his way back up, and it’s good to see that he won’t just get a free pass. It also means that Marner will stay in the top six, which is awesome, and that the team won’t be messing with things too much just because they took home one loss; while they’ve had quite a few ‘bad’ games that they’ve won that need addressing, don’t fix it when the defense is what’s really broke.

THE RED WINGS

Gustav Nyquist
GUSTAV NYQUIST
Henrik Zetterberg
HENRIK ZETTERBERG
Anthony Mantha
ANTHONY MANTHA
Tomas Tatar
TOMAS TATAR
Dylan Larkin
DYLAN LARKIN
Andreas Athanasiou
ANDREAS ATHANASIOU
Darren Helm
DARREN HELM
Frans Nielsen
FRANS NIELSEN
Justin Abdelkader
JUSTIN ABDELKADER
Tyler Bertuzzi
TYLER BERTUZZI
Luke Glendening
LUKE GLENDENING
Martin Frk
MARTIN FRK

 

Jonathan Ericsson
JONATHAN ERICSSON
Trevor Daley
TREVOR DALEY
Niklas Kronwall
NIKLAS KRONWALL
Luke Witkowski
LUKE WITKOWSKI
Dan DeKeyser
DAN DEKEYSER
Nick Jensen
NICK JENSEN

Did you know that Anthony Mantha is a 19-goal scorer this year? I didn’t, but now I do!

The Red Wings aren’t quite as bad as their place in the standings indicates, but they’re sure not a good team, either. They’ve struggled to come to terms with just how badly a lot of their bigger, older contracts have hampered them over the last few years, and the Pavel Datsyuk contract dump is looking like it cost them a player they probably could have used. If the Red Wings had Jakob Chychrun on their blue line right now, they’d be in a very different position.

Their goaltending has been keeping them in a lot of games, though, so they aren’t all that different from Toronto – just with a much weaker offensive corps. With that in mind, here’s hoping that the scoring edge for Toronto is what pushes them over the edge.

STARTING GOALIES

Toronto made it clear at the start of the season that, barring injury or illness, backup Curtis McElhinney will only appear on the tail end of back-to-back contests – which means that he’ll get game appearance number 11 tonight against Detroit.

So far this season, he’s been statistically excellent, if still stylistically a wild card – but that shouldn’t matter much if he’s able to put up the same numbers he’s been putting up all year. His .932 save percentage in all situations currently comes with a 6-4-0 record; so long as Toronto manages to limit at least some of the shots he’s facing, he should be fine.

On the other side of the ice, expect Jimmy Howard to get the nod, although Detroit has yet to confirm anything.

Rumors have circulated that one or both of the team’s goaltenders are being considered as trade bait, although a scout with the team confirmed that the team isn’t doing much more than taking calls to see what’s being offered. That being said, don’t expect this to have too much of an impact on how the team approaches their starts moving forward; they’ve split things between Howard and Petr Mrazek all season, and that shouldn’t change.

NOTES:

  • Toronto needs to badly fix their shot suppression rates; they allowed 57 SOG for Frederik Andersen two games ago, then saw him face 39 last night in the 5-3 loss. At some point, even the best goaltender is going to get worn down by this; to compare, Martin Brodeur faced roughly 23 shots a game when he was playing his heaviest workloads and getting a chance to shoulder the majority of the starts in New Jersey. If Toronto hopes to make a deep playoff run, exhausting Andersen now isn’t a great way to do that – and burning McElhinney in the process isn’t exactly going to help them much, either.
  • It was nice to see Tyler Bozak, Connor Brown, and Patrick Marleau score for Toronto on Saturday, giving the team a chance to get on the board when someone other than Auston Matthews or William Nylander was a part of the play. None of the team’s top five in scoring notched a goal in the game, and that’s promising that they still managed three tallies doing that. Still, Bozak sits on just nine goals this season, putting him on pace for just 12 goals for his second time in three seasons; ideally, that number needs to go up.
  • We’ve heard rumors that the Leafs want Luke Glendening, but that’s an insane possibility that pretty much no one should be hoping for.
  • Earlier this week, I wrote up a piece for The Athletic on how good Andersen has been IN SPITE of the team in front of him. In addition to shot volume, he’s getting stuck trying to tend net behind a team that’s eager to crowd his crease and block shots in the blue paint, particularly when they’re attempting to clear a rebound. He does significantly better when the team pushes out a bit and allows him to get solid sight lines on his own rebounds, clearing from a few feet father outside the crease and allowing him to make second saves when they aren’t able to reach those pucks – yet they continue to get all up in his business, and it costs them more goals than anything. Hopefully, they won’t do this to McElhinney as well, but no guarantees; if they crowd him as an already-aggressively positioned guy, that could hurt them significantly against an incredibly desperate team.

LGD BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE PINT

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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