Toronto Maple Leafs Game Preview: Dion Phaneuf Expected to Return Against Philadelphia Flyers


Toronto Maple Leafs Game Preview: Dion Phaneuf Expected to Return Against Philadelphia Flyers

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.

Dec 20, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Philadelphia Flyers center Claude Giroux (28) goes after the puck into the corner against Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf (3) at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Flyers (26-24-11) @ Toronto Maple Leafs (24-31-5) 7:30 p.m. TSN

The Leafs lost their last game against the Flyers 1-0.

More from Tip of the Tower

Leafs Injury Report

Dion Phaneuf likely to return from hand injury

Trevor Smith questionable with a lower-body injury

Projected Line Combinations (Leafs)

Flyers Injury Report

Ray Emery doubtful with a lower-body injury

Steve Mason out with a lower-body injury

Kimmo Timonen out with blood clots

Line Combinations (Flyers)

Game Preview

Jan 19, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Dion Phaneuf (3) fights with Carolina Hurricanes forward Eric Staal (12) as Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri (43) looks on at the Air Canada Centre. Carolina defeated Toronto 4-1. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

After trading Daniel Winnik to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Leafs will are expected to have Phaneuf return against the Flyers tonight. Phaneuf has been sidelined since January 21st, after he hurt his hand in a fight. Head coach Peter Horachek said he will monitor Phaneuf’s minutes as the game progresses. Expect Morgan Rielly and Roman Polak to see more minutes against the top line featuring Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds and Michael Raffl, but Phaneuf will probably draw some minutes against them as the game progresses.

Jan 31, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers goalie Steve Mason (35) makes a save against Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly (44) during the third period at Wells Fargo Center. The Flyers defeated the Maple Leafs, 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Leafs are coming off a win over the Winnipeg Jets that was a hard fought effort, with the teams trading many chances. The Leafs were fortunate to have four days off to work with players, so that they can clean up parts of their game. The Flyers have been up and down all season and their success usually comes when they get excellent goaltending. They have been rotating Mason, Emery and Rob Zepp because of injuries this season, but when these goalies are on their game the Flyers are a tough team to beat. They are coming off a tough loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, but they hope to improve on their 2-0 record against the Leafs this season.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Mar 28, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf (3) stares at Philadelphia Flyers center Claude Giroux (28) during the second period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Phil Kessel career vs PHI: 30 GP – 4 goals – 10 assists – 14 PTS

Nazem Kadri career vs PHI: 10 GP – 1 goals – 4 assists – 5 PTS

Joffrey Lupul career vs PHI: 11 GP – 4 goals – 8 assists – 10 PTS

James van Riemsdyk career vs PHI: 8 GP- 4 goals-0 assists- 4 PTS

Dion Phaneuf career vs TOR: 20 GP- 2 goals- 10 assists- 12 PTS

Jonathan Bernier career vs PHI: 5 GP- Record:  2-3 4.78 GAA- .865 SV% 

James Reimer career vs PHI: 7 GP- Record: 2-4, 2.73 GAA- .909 SV% 

Philadelphia Flyers

Dec 20, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Philadelphia Flyers center Claude Giroux (28) faces off against Toronto Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri (43) at Air Canada Centre. The Flyers beat the Maple Leafs 7-4. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Claude Giroux career vs TOR: 22 GP- 8 goals- 15 assists- 23 PTS

Wayne Simmonds career vs TOR: 15 GP- 5 goals- 4 assists- 9 PTS

Jakub Voracek career vs TOR: 13 GP- 3 goals- 9 assists- 12 PTS

Vincent Lecavalier career vs TOR: 55 GP- 23 goals- 31 assists- 54 PTS

Rob Zepp career vs TOR: 0 GP-  Record (this season): 9 GP- 5-2, 2.80 GAA- .893 SV%

Keys to Victory

Feb 24, 2015; Raleigh, NC, USA; Philadelphia Flyers forward Claude Giroux (28) skates with puck against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The Flyers are top three in power play percentage at 23.3%, which should warn the Leafs to avoid taking penalties at all cost. The Leafs are ranked 13th in penalty kill percentage at 82.1%, but even they will have a tough time against the Flyers after they moved their best penalty killing forward in Winnik.

Jan 19, 2015; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Casey Cizikas (53) shoots the puck against Philadelphia Flyers goalie Rob Zepp (72) during the first period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The Islanders won 7-4. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Flyers goaltending has been hit and miss for them for most of the season. The last time these two teams played, goaltending was vital for both teams with the Flyers earning the 1-0 result. It is likely that Bernier will start against the Flyers, so it will be important for him to keep the Leafs in the game early – especially with the number of chances the Flyers offence generates.

Jan 17, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues right wing Ryan Reaves (75) pushes Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf (3) during the third period at Scottrade Center. The Blues defeated the Maple Leafs 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

With Phaneuf coming back, the defence needs to support him because it will be tough for the captain to get right back into the flow of the game after missing a full month.

This is a game where the Leafs should have no excuse for having a poor start after a long rest in-between games. If they do come out to a slow, expect Philly to make them pay for it.