Toronto Maple Leafs Game Preview: Red Wing Redemption


Toronto Maple Leafs Game Preview: Red Wing Redemption

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.


Toronto Maple Leafs (2-3-0) vs Detroit Red Wings (2-1-1): 7:00 p.m on CBC

The Toronto Maple Leafs were 1-2-1 last season against Detroit.

Leafs Injury Report:

Brandon Kozun out with a lower body injury after colliding awkwardly into the boards in last nights game.

David Booth out with a broken foot.

Projected Line Combinations (Leafs)**

**Subject to change with Kozun/Winnik injuries.

Red Wings Injury Report:

Pavel Datsyuk out with seperated shoulder.

Anhony Mantha out with a fractured right tibia.

Projected Line Combinations (Red Wings)

Game Preview

The beauty of a home and home series is the chance to forget about the night before and focus on seeking redemption in game number two. At least that is the case for the Toronto Maple Leafs after losing handily to the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 on Friday night.

James Reimer and the Leafs were coming off a two game win streak as they prepared to play against their original six rivals in back-to-back games. After dominating their opponents in shots and scoring chances for the majority of the two previous contests, they had no such luck against Mike Babcock and his Red Wings. The Wings out-shot the Leafs 35-24 on the night.

Oct 17, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Detroit Red Wings left wing Justin Abdelkader (8) celebrates his goal in the third period past Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer (34) at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

There will be two fresh faces in goal for the final game of this mini series taking place at Joe Louis Arena. Former Leaf Jonas Gustavsson will make his first start of the year on Saturday. The Monster performed well for the Wings when called upon last season. He sported a 16-5-4 record with a career best .908 save percentage. His 16 wins fell one short of his career high 17 wins with the Maple Leafs. However it took him 42 games and an unknown number of jerseys thrown onto the ice for him to accomplish that.

The last time the Leafs faced Gustavsson was in the preseason finale, where they lit him up for five goals on route to a 5-1 victory.

A familiar face returns in net for the Maple Leafs. Jonathan Bernier will have a chance to redeem himself and will start for the first time since October 11 against Pittsburgh. Bernier has allowed nine goals against in two starts so far this season and has been outplayed by his partner Reimer.

The Leafs’ tough schedule continues to start the season as the Red Wings always pose a tough match up, even tougher on back-to-back nights. They need to make some adjustments from last nights game if they have any hope of leaving Detroit with a series split. The Keys To Victory will break down some of these alterations.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Phil Kessel career vs Detroit: 11 GP – 4 goals – 5 assists – 9 PTS

James Van Riemsdyk career vs Detroit: 8 GP – 3 goals – 1 assist – 4 PTS

Tyler Bozak career vs Detroit: 6 GP – 1 goal – 0 assists – 1 PT

Nazem Kadri career vs Detroit: 8 GP – 1 goal – 0 assists – 1 PT

Jonathan Bernier career vs Detroit: 4 GS (games started) – 2 W – 2 L – 1 OTL

Detroit Red Wings

Henrik Zetterberg career vs Toronto: 10 GP – 6 goals – 8 assists – 14 PTS

Gustav Nyquist career vs Toronto: 5 GP – 4 goals – 1 assist – 5 PTS

Johan Franzen career vs Toronto: 6 GP – 2 goals – 4 assists – 6 PTS

Jonas Gustavsson career vs Toronto: 1 GP – 1 W – 0 L

Keys to Victory for Toronto

-Ask Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg really nicely if he can slow it down. If that doesn’t work, play him a lot tougher. The Leafs defense need to rotate in the defensive zone and stick to him like glue when he has the puck.

Oct 17, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Detroit Red Wings left wing Henrik Zetterberg (40) skates in close on Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer (34) at Air Canada Centre. The Red Wings beat the Maple Leafs 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

He put on a magic show of puck distribution last night, tallying four assists; three of them were primary assists. If they shut down Zetterberg and take away space quicker, he may not be able to find the open man quite as often as he did last night. Which leads to my second point…

-It isn’t just Zetterberg who torched the Leafs last night. His line-mates can flat out score. Franzen and Nyquist both have excellent finishing ability and if they have a chance around the crease, they will capitalize. An improved defensive awareness will be essential for the Buds on Saturday night as all four Red Wing goals were scored from prime real estate in the Leafs zone. They need to focus on the little things: tying up sticks in front of the net and not getting caught puck-watching. Two goals could have been easily prevented with a greater awareness around the crease.

-Back-checking. There are many guys on the team this year that work there butts off at both ends of the ice for the Leafs. Two-way players can make or break a team and guys like Daniel Winnik, Leo Komarov, David Clarkson, and of course Tyler Bozak are counted on to fill that role. In last nights game, we saw the importance of picking up the trailer on the back-check. Kadri was caught

Oct 17, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri (43) goes after the puck as Detroit Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (52) applies pressure at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

gliding back into the defensive zone in the second period. Nyquist was allowed to creep in, receive a pass, and slide a goal in past Reimer. All he had to worry about was that five feet behind him Kadri was poking at him with one hand on his stick. The Leafs made it far too easy for the Wings goal-scorers to find clear shots in the slot area.

-If the offense can go back to firing pucks on net and moving the puck quickly like they did against New York and Colorado, it should make for a handful of goals on Jonas Gustavsson.

Dec 21, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward David Clarkson (71) attempts to screen Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jonas Gustavsson (50) at the Air Canada Centre. Detroit defeated Toronto 5-4 in an overtime shoot out. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

They moved the puck extremely well for the first ten minutes of Friday night’s contest. With the exception of Phil Kessel, Leafs forwards have struggled in their careers against the Red Wings as you can see by the above statistics. Expect to see a big improvement in this area on Saturday night.

-One of the keys to success in both of the Leafs wins this season was great first period play by Reimer. He gave them momentum with timely saves and a chance to strike first on the scoreboard. Bernier needs to do the same tonight not only for his team, but for himself. He let in a couple of soft goals by his standards in his previous two starts. This is a perfect time for him to get back on track and do his part to ensure that the last thing the Leafs need to be worrying about is their goaltending.

After a disappointing home game for the Maple Leafs, I expect them to head into Detroit with something to prove. It is an important divisional matchup and they need to come out flying. I like the goaltending match up for the Leafs and think we will see an offensive show put on by the blue and white.

Prediction: Maple Leafs 5, Red Wings 2.

Let us know your prediction for tonight’s battle between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings in the comment section below.

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