Toronto Maple Leafs Game Preview: A Battle for 2-2 with the Colorado Avalanche
We have all waited patiently and now it is time to drop the puck on a new season for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Here at the Tip of the Tower we strive to give you as much content on your Toronto sports teams as humanly possible. This series will preview every single Toronto Maple Leafs game and what you should know for the game that night.
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Oct 8, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forwardJoffrey Lupul
(19) scores on Colorado Avalanche goaltenderSemyon Varlamov
(1) as Toronto Maple Leafs forwardCarter Ashton
(37) and Colorado Avalanche forwardNathan MacKinnon
(29) trail the play during the second period at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Toronto Maple Leafs (1-2-0) vs Colorado Avalanchev(1-2-0): 7:30 p.m TSN4 (Toronto region)
The Toronto Maple Leafs have lost their last four games at home against the Colorado Avalanche.
Leafs Injury Report
David Booth out with Broken Foot
Defence could be the same as the one from Sunday night vs the New York Rangers which had Percy take Gardiner’s spot.However Gardiner could draw back into the lineup and take someone’s spot.
Avalanche Injury Report
John Mitchell on IR with Migraines
Patrick Bordeau on IR after Back Surgery
Oct 12, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Joffrey Lupul (19) celebrates the teams sixth goal against the New York Rangers scored during the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Colorado Avalanche started off the season with two straight losses but were able to get their first win in their third game of the season. For the Toronto Maple Leafs it was a must needed victory after they were embarrassed by the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night, they were able to come away with the victory against the New York Rangers 6-3. The Colorado Avalanche were shutout in their first two games by the Minnesota Wild before they won their first game yesterday against the Boston Bruins.
Jan 21, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs right wingPhil Kessel
(81) reacts to his goal in the second period against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
It will be a battle to get to 2-2, and whichever team loses will most likely eliminate the positive vibes from their previous win.
Last season Toronto and Colorado were two teams that were playing horribly based on the advanced statistics numbers, the difference was that Colorado made the playoffs, while Toronto fell flat on their faces.
Both teams are still dealing with their issues with possession stats which will most likely dominate the discussion on twitter tomorrow. Last season Toronto and Colorado ranked in the bottom five in both Corsi and Fenwick percentage.
Here is an example of how poor advanced stats can be evident in a bad loss for Toronto:
Tomorrow’s game will be a showcase of great offensive play and mediocre defence, which means that both teams goalies will have to have their “A” game in order to come away with the win.
Jan 21, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov (1) defends the goal against Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Phil Kessel (81) in the first period at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Toronto Maple Leafs
Phil Kessel career vs Colorado: 6 GP- 5 goals- 0 assist- 5 PTS
Tyler Bozak career vs Colorado: 5 GP- 1 goal- 3 assists- 4 PTS
** Jonathan Bernier career vs Colorado: 2 GP (1 as a starter)- 0 wins- 1 loss- 1.81 GAA- .939 sv%
** James Reimer career vs Colorado: 3 GP- 2 wins- 0 losses- 1 overtime/shootout loss- 2.65 GAA- .917 sv%
**Depending on who starts in goal
Oct 8, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Colorado Avalanche forwardMatt Duchene
(9) carries the puck against Toronto Maple Leafs defensemanCarl Gunnarsson
(36) during the third period at the Air Canada Centre. Colorado defeated Toronto 2-1. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Duchene career vs Toronto: 5 GP- 1 goal- 2 assists- 3 PTS
Jarome Iginla career vs Toronto: 38 GP- 16 goals- 17 assists- 33 points
Nathan MacKinnon career vs Toronto: 2 GP- 2 goals- 1 assist- 3 points
Semyon Varlamov career vs Toronto: 4 GP- 2 wins- 1 loss- 1 overtime loss- 2.60 GAA- .917 sv%
Oct 12, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer (34) makes a save on a shot by New York Rangers centerDerick Brassard
(16) during the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Keys to Victory for Toronto
– It was apparent that if James Reimer did not hold his ground on Sunday (more importantly the first period) the game would have had a different result. Whoever plays in goal against the Avalanche will have to make key saves early in the game in order to give the offence time to get their fair share of scoring chances.
– The Avalanche offence is not firing on all cylinders at the moment so the Leafs have to avoid poking the bear. If the Leafs give players like Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon, and Jarome Iginla receive grade “A” scoring chances, it will be a long day for the Blue and White.
Oct 12, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs centerPeter Holland
(24) and New York Rangers right wingJesper Fast
(19) battle for the puck during the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
– Randy Carlyle vowed to play all four lines more consistently this season. Against the Rangers the fourth line plated less than 10 minutes each (Richard Panik– 5:28, Peter Holland- 5:52, Brandon Kozun– 7:43). The Colorado Avalanche will try to give their top line more minutes so if the Leafs can force the Avalanche to use their bottom two lines more it may favour the Leafs strength at depth upfront. I would probably scratch Panik and put in Matt Frattin given the lack of opportunity Panik has had to get his game going, and the fact that Frattin can provide more offensively in a depth position.
– The Toronto Maple Leafs make it too easy for opponents to gain access to the front of the net and get prime scoring chances in the slot. They have to be more aggressive in front of the net and push players away. Look at the hit on Reimer, the Leafs need to do a better job at establishing their ground in the defensive zone and let opposing players know that they will have a tough time getting chances in front of their net. No more fly byes and try to be more physical! Be mean and push back against the other teams forwards!
Oct 12, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs defensemanCody Franson
(4) celebrates his goal with teammates during the first period against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
– The Leafs have to take advantage of special teams. Toronto is 5/12 with the man advantage while Colorado is 0/10 on the season. The Leafs are the 24th ranked penalty kill at 66.7% while the Avalanche are ranked 9th at 90.9%. The penalty kill has to be better and take advantage of their powerplay opportunities in order to establish more possession and zone time in the offensive zone.
If the Toronto Maple Leafs can establish more zone time against the Avalanche and find out how the Minnesota Wild were able to silence the Avalanche’s offence they have a good chance to get back to a .500 record.