Game Day Questions: Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Detroit Red Wings


Game Day Questions: Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Detroit Red Wings

Riding a two-game winning streak, the Toronto Maple Leafs host the Detroit Red Wings at the Air Canada Centre on Friday night. This matchup is the first game of a home-and-home between the teams, with the rematch in Detroit on Saturday night.

Fresh off a thrilling overtime victory against the Colorado Avalanche, Toronto Maple Leafs star Phil Kessel is starting to find his stride. With 5 points during the two-game win streak, Kessel looks to be recovered from early season knee/conditioning problems.

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That’s good news. The Toronto Maple Leafs will need all the offense they can get as they face off against a Red Wings team that helped to crush the Leafs’ playoff hopes last season.

Let’s take a look at some of the pre-game questions surrounding the Friday night tilt.

Who will start in goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs?

Leafs beat reporter Jonas Siegel reports that Jonathan Bernier looks like he’ll start on Friday lists Bernier as the likely starter but with a low confidence rating.

0-2-0 with a 4.51 GAA and a .882 SV% in his two starts, Bernier has started slowly this year. Meanwhile, James Reimer is 2-0-0, with a 2.24 GAA and .920 SV%. Some fans are already calling for Reimer to take the number one goalie reins while he’s hot.

So, which goalie will the Toronto Maple Leafs turn to on home ice against the Red Wings on Friday night?

Will Brandon Kozun and Richard Panik keep their spots in the Toronto Maple Leafs lineup?

Kozun and Panik are averaging between 7 and 9 minutes Time On Ice, barely seeing the ice enough to get into the flow of game. And what they’re doing with those minutes isn’t helping.

Oct 3, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward

Brandon Kozun

(67) heads up ice against the Detroit Red Wings at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto defeated Detroit 5-1. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Panik is currently totting around an abysmal 25.8 Corsi For%, while pre-season darling Kozun has managed only a 36.7 CF% during the regular season.

Randy Carlyle‘s penchant for enforcers is well-known. Though he reluctantly agreed to start the season without a pugilist, Panik and Kozun aren’t making strong cases to remain in the NHL.

The Detroit Red Wings don’t fight. But is there any chance that Colton Orr finds his way back onto the fourth line for the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday night?

Can the Toronto Maple Leafs win the battle of the faceoffs?

A key to possessing the puck, particularly against a skilled possession team like the Red Wings is faceoff wins. Tyler Bozak (56.3% faceoff wins) and Nazem Kadri (55.2%) have started the season strong. Leo Komarov (48.4%), Peter Holland (36.7%), and Mike Santorelli (38.5%) have started the season poorly in the faceoff circle.

If the Toronto Maple Leafs are going to keep up with the Wings, Bozak and Kadri will need to maintain their win percentages, while the other centres will need to elevate their work on the draws.

Can the Leafs centres win enough faceoffs to keep puck possession totals close?

What do you think, Leafs fans? Can the Toronto Maple Leafs keep the win streak alive against the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night?