Toronto Maple Leafs Game Preview: Taking On The New York Islanders
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 (2-3-1) vs New York Islanders (4-1-0): 7:00 p.m on TSN4
The Toronto Maple Leafs were 1-2-0 last season against the New York Islanders.
Leafs Injury Report
David Booth out with broken foot.
Daniel Winnik is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
Brandon Kozun is out with a high ankle sprain.
Matt Carkner is out with an upper-body injury.
Michael Grabner is out with a sports hernia.
The Maple Leafs will square off with the New York Islanders for the first of three meetings this season. The Leafs and Isles have been trending in opposite directions to start the year. Coming off of back to back losses against the Detroit Red Wings, the Leafs are still searching for their identity. Their streaky play has left them with a sub-par record.
The Islanders are the first team on the Leafs schedule that did not make the playoffs last season. Unfortunately for the Leafs, they look like a whole new team this year, and their 4-1-0 record proves it. The Islanders traded for defencemen Johnny Boychuk
Oct 14, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) reacts after scoring a goal against the New York Rangers during the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
and Nick Leddy just in time to start the season. Both former Stanley Cup Champions, they have provided the Islanders with a strong back end. They have finally found a solid starting goaltender in Jaroslav Halak and with the additions of former Leafs Nikolai Kulemin and Mikhail Grabovski, the Isles are finally taking a shot at the postseason. All in all, it will be another tough game for the Leafs, but there is still plenty to look forward to.
They enter New York on Tuesday looking to get back in the win column and to end the Islanders perfect home record. The Isles are currently sitting first in the Metropolitan division, ahead of the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Captain John Tavares has led his team with nine points in five games as the scorching hot Islanders having been turning heads around the league. They won their first four games of the season and their only loss came at the hands of the Penguins on Saturday.
The Leafs made great progress in their defensive play in Saturday’s 1-0 overtime loss in Detroit. The defense shut down Henrik Zetterberg after his four point night and Jonathan Bernier appeared to have found his game. He stopped 31 of the 32 shots he faced and gave the Leafs plenty of opportunity to win. Despite the loss, Leaf fans should refrain from hitting the panic button just yet.
There are plenty of new faces in the lineup this season (Winnik, Komarov, Kozun, Frattin, Santorelli, Panik, Robidas, Polak, Percy). Chemistry isn’t built overnight. It is going to take some time to develop and slowly we will start to see the results. The series in Detroit showed
Sep 23, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Leo Komarov (47) skates against the Philadelphia Flyers during the first period at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
that the Komarov-Santorelli-Clarkson line is beginning to come together nicely and they look like they could end up being a tough third line that can contribute consistently on the score sheet (*knock on wood*). Roman Polak brings a grittyness to the Leafs back end that reminds me of an upgraded version of Tim Gleason. Most importantly, we have now watched both Reimer and Bernier play exceptional games, although the number one goalie tag is still up in the air.
The next few games will be big for the Leafs as they need to keep pace early in the Atlantic Division. The next three games after tonight are against division rivals (@ Ottawa, vs Boston, vs Buffalo).
Toronto Maple Leafs
Phil Kessel career vs NYI: 29 GP- 14 goals- 12 assists- 26 PTS
James Van Riemsdyk career vs NYI: 20 GP- 6 goals- 8 assists- 14 PTS
Joffrey Lupul career vs NYI: 23 GP- 10 goals- 9 assists- 19 PTS
**Jonathan Bernier career vs NYI: 3 GS (games started)- 1 W- 1 L- 1 OTL – 3.65 GAA – .885 SV%
**James Reimer career vs NYI: 7 GS- 4 W- 2 L – 1 OTL – 3.43 GAA – .897 SV%
**Depending on who starts in goal
New York Islanders
John Tavares career vs TOR: 17 GP – 8 goals – 11 assists – 19 PTS
Kyle Okposo career vs TOR: 21 GP – 5 goals – 9 assists – 14 PTS
Josh Bailey career vs TOR: 21 GP – 4 goals – 7 assists – 11 PTS
Jaroslav Halak career vs TOR: GS 13 – 7 W – 2 L – 3 OTL – 2.79 GAA – .914 SV%
Keys To Victory For Toronto:
-The Maple Leafs need to bump and grind in this one. The Islanders have been averaging over 13 penalty minutes a game to start the season and have an atrocious penalty kill at just 58.8%. That ranks dead last in the league by a long-shot over the 29th ranked Coyotes at 71.4%.
Feb 27, 2014; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Anders Lee (27) scores a goal against Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier (45) during the third period of a game at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The Islanders defeated the Maple Leafs 5-4 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
If the Leafs can finish their checks in the corners and utilize their speed in the neutral zone they will draw penalties against this Islanders team that can be undisciplined. They can win this game on the power-play alone.
-A strong start will do the Maple Leafs wonders as often times their performance in the first period can make or break them. The Leafs have scored the first goal of the game twice this season and they won both of those games. On the other hand, they have conceded the first goal of the game four times and lost all of those games. If this pattern is to continue, the Leafs will need a strong start as they are a team that can thrive on momentum.
-The top line needs to get back on track once again and begin to find the consistency that made them so lethal last season. The classic Kessel and Van Riemsdyk
Feb 27, 2014; Uniondale, NY, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Phil Kessel (81) controls the puck against New York Islanders defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky (11) during the first period of a game at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
two on one has been absent more often than not early in the year. When they have been on their game they have put up big numbers and the Leafs prospered as a team. If the Isles can shut down the Leafs top line than the secondary scoring will have to be ready to step up and pot a couple goals.
-The Leafs need to continue to work on reducing turnovers at both ends of the ice. They have been notorious in the past for making poor decisions resulting in scoring chances for their opponents. They are ranked 27th in the league in goal differential for five on five play, as compared to the fourth place Islanders. If they can play a clean game and make smart passes breaking out and through the neutral zone for a full sixty minutes it would be hard to lose.
-If Randy Carlyle is comfortable rolling all four lines for the Maple Leafs they will fare well against the New York forwards. The Islanders have three strong lines that are playing well but do not get much production from their fourth line. A fast game from the Leafs four lines will give them the legs in the third period and can be a game changer if the game is close.
Oct 17, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs center Peter Holland (24) skates with the puck against the Detroit Red Wings at Air Canada Centre. The Red Wings beat the Maple Leafs 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Holland, Frattin, and Panik will need to make sure that they can keep up if they are matched up against one of the Isles top three lines. That will likely be the case since the Islanders have last change, but if the three of them can focus on playing their game and generating their own scoring chances rather than playing overly conservative, they can give the Leafs a major energy boost throughout the game.
Lost two, won two, lost two. According to probability, the Leafs are due for a win! They will need to play with the same compete level that they showed in Detroit and do whatever it takes to come out of there with two points. The schedule ahead does not get easier so it’s time for the Leafs to take points wherever they can get them. They have one win in New York already this season, why not take another bite out of the big apple?
Let us know your predictions for tonight’s game in the comment section below.
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