Toronto Maple Leafs Game Preview: Date Night with the Detroit Red Wings
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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Toronto Maple Leafs (2-2-0) vs Detroit Red Wings (1-1-1): 7:30 p.m Rogers Sportsnet Ontario
The Toronto Maple Leafs were 1-2-1 last season against Detroit
Leafs Injury Report
David Booth out with Broken Foot
Red Wings Injury Report
Pavel Datsyuk out with a shoulder injury
Anthony Mantha out with a fractured right tibia
Oct 3, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Detroit Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg (40) checks Toronto Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul (19) during the second period at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
A rare Friday night game awaits for the Toronto Maple Leafs. For the men out there wondering what to do for a Friday night date night (you may be running out of time), how about a hockey game? Instead of spending money at the movies why not spend
more money on a Leafs game?
The Toronto Maple Leafs have played against three tough Eastern Conference opponents but another one is waiting for the Leafs. The Detroit Red Wings are the Leafs fifth straight opponent that went to the playoffs last season, talk about a hard schedule right out of the gate. Both teams have not played in the last couple of days, so either both teams will be rusty or they will come out flying, I hope for the latter.
Luckily for the Leafs the Red Wings have had to deal with a significant injury to Pavel Datsyuk and top prospect Anthony Mantha. Meanwhile, Toronto has been pretty fortunate about their injury situation. That is until it was reported that Joffrey Lupul may not play against the Red Wings because of a lower-body injury that he apparently suffered against Colorado, he did not participate in practice on Thursday.
The Detroit Red Wings are not the flashiest team in the league, but they work hard and follow a strict structured game set by coach Mike Babcock. The Toronto Maple Leafs are still dealing with defensive issues but they are trending in the right direction. The Detroit Red Wings will be a good test to see how the Leafs can make more of a commitment to defense.
Jan 1, 2014; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings left wing Henrik Zetterberg (40) takes a shot on Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier (45) defended by Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf (3) during the 2014 Winter Classic hockey game at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer will both get a chance to start. Bernier will likely start Friday in Toronto and Reimer will get the nod in Detroit. Bernier will have to have a decent game if he wants to silence the doubts about being a capable starter (not that many are doubters, but there are doubters out there).
The top line has finally started to produce again and it will be important for them to continue that if the Leafs want any chance of beating the Red Wings. I will go into more detail in my Keys to Victory
Toronto Maple Leafs
Phil Kessel career vs Detroit: 10 GP- 4 goals- 5 assists- 9 PTS
Dion Phaneuf career vs Detroit: 24 GP- 7 goals- 10 assists- 17 PTS
Joffrey Lupul career vs Detroit: 19 GP- 9 goals- 6 assists- 15 PTS
**Jonathan Bernier career vs Detroit: 4 GS (games started)- 2 wins- 2 losses- 1 OTL
**James Reimer career vs Detroit: 3 GS- 0 wins- 2 losses
**Depending on who starts in goal
Detroit Red Wings
Gustav Nyquist career vs Toronto: 4 GP- 3 goals- 1 assists- 4 PTS
Henrik Zetterberg career vs Toronto: 9 GP- 6 goals- 4 assits- 10 PTS
Niklas Kronwall career vs Toronto: 8 GP- 1 goals- 4 assists- 5 PTS
**Jimmy Howard career vs Toronto: 5 GP- 2 wins- 1 loss- 1 OTL
**Jonas Gustavsson career vs Toronto: 1 GP- 1 win- 0 losses
**Depending on who starts in goal
Keys to Victory for Toronto
Oct 9, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings center Gustav Nyquist (14) scores a goal on Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40) in the second period at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
– Stop the Nyquist train! He has three goals in all three games this season. He scored two goals in one game that he played against Toronto last year. If it was not for his play last season the Red Wings might have missed the playoffs. He had 28 goals, 20 assists for 48 points in 57 games last season. He does not take a lot of shots so if he gets a chance to score he will convert on it, so it is imperative that he doesn’t get that chance.
– The top line will have to continue their hot streak and try to convert on the powerplay.The Avalanche took six penalties against and Toronto could not capitalize on that. The secondary scoring will have to be ready if Detroit shuts down the top line, if Lupul does not play it will be a harder task to accomplish. The fourth line has to force Randy Carlyle to play them more often, which means that they have to avoid being caught in their own zone and try to get some scoring chances or even some significant offensive zone time. Brandon Kozun had a goal and two assists against Detroit in the preseason, hopefully he can produce again.
Oct 11, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs center Tyler Bozak (42) is congratulated on his goal by right wing Phil Kessel (81) in the third period against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Air Canada Centre. The Penguins beat the Maple Leafs 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
– The Leafs still have to work on protecting the front of the net, I know that I sound like a broken record, but it has killed them this season. A lot of goals scored on the Leafs have been in front of the net, so if they can force the play to the outside, the goaltenders will have a better chance in getting a save. Players who get clear chances in the slot or in front of the net will convert a good percentage of the time.
– Jimmy Howard has played pretty well. Against the Bruins – although they lost the game – Howard stopped 37 out of 39 shots in the shootout loss. If the Leafs can find a way to get to him, they have a good chance in coming up with the win.
– The Leafs have to avoid the turnovers. Although Phil Kessel scored the game winning goals against the Avalanche, he had five turnovers. For a player of his caliber he should not be turning the puck over that much. If Kessel can takeaway the puck more often, the giveaways won’t look that bad.
Oct 3, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mike Santorelli (25) celebrates a goal on Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jonas Gustavsson (50) by Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Jake Gardiner (not pictured) during the first period at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
– They need to find a way to get Jake Gardiner into the lineup. Gardiner is too valuable and against a team like Detroit you need to move the puck efficiently out of your own zone which Gardiner can do. Stephane Robidas has not looked great so far and it may be time for Randy Carlyle to let him sit a game or utilize him as the seventh defencemen (which is what they should have done with Gardiner). It is not fair to sit Gardiner while other defencemen on the team like Robidas have not been much better.
– If the Leafs can get decent goaltending from Reimer and Bernier this team will be better off. The difference this season between Reimer and Bernier is that Reimer has not allowed a stinker to go by him, unlike Bernier. Bernier is a good goalie but when he has the chance to make the save early in the game, he has to make it because the Leafs always have a hard time coming back. These next two games will tell us a lot about the Leafs goaltending situation. Even though it is early into the season, starting goalies do not get many chances to make mistakes and cost their teams victories.
This will be a crucial series for the Leafs even though it is early into the season. Detroit is a divisional rival and it is important to play tough against divisional opponents. I think there is a good chance that the Leafs and Red Wings will split the series with one of the games going into overtime/shootout.