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Preview, Game Day #32: Los Angeles Kings @ Toronto Maple Leafs

A real barnburner between hated rivals.

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Kings @ Toronto Maple Leafs

Time: 4:00 Pacific

TV: Fox Sports West, CBC (HNIC!)

Enemy Reading: Pension Plan Puppets

Kings Lines:

Lucic - Kopitar - Gaborik
Pearson - Carter - Toffoli
Mersch - Shore - Brown
Andreoff - Lewis - Nolan

McNabb - Doughty
Muzzin - Martinez
Ehrhoff - McBain

Enroth
(Quick)

Scratched/Injured: Forbort, Weal, Clifford, King, Greene

Leafs Lines:

James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - P.A. Parenteau
Michael Grabner - Nazem Kadri - Leo Komarov
Daniel Winnik - Peter Holland - Joffrey Lupul
Shawn Matthias - Byron Froese - Brad Boyes

Jake Gardiner - Dion Phaneuf
Matt Hunwick - Morgan Rielly
Martin Marincin - Roman Polak

Jonathan Bernier
(Antoine Bibeau)

Notes

  • The Maple Leafs are still bad, but they're less bad than they have been. They almost have a 50% Corsi this season. They still are not winning very many games.
  • The Leafs have gotten sub-average goaltending and shooting so far this season, which is the driving force behind their poor record. Some of this isn't very surprising as this Leafs roster is not very good. There is a distinct lack of top end scoring talent, especially with Phil Kessel now gone to Pittsburgh.
  • The goaltending being subpar isn't entirely surprising, though how they get there has been an entertaining journey. After acquiring and promoting Jonathan Bernier at the expense of James Reimer, Bernier has gone into the tank while Reimer has starred. Bernier has been so bad this season that the Leafs sent him to the AHL on a "conditioning stint" in hopes that he might find his game. Early returns are not promising, as he's given up 8 goals on 56 shots since returning to the Maple Leafs. He has yet to win a game this season. Reimer is currently injured so Bernier gets the start tonight.
  • On the other hand, the Leafs having subpar shooting is surprising, at least given what they were able to do over the previous few seasons. Even with the departure of Phil Kessel, them plummeting to the bottom of the league in shooting percentage was entirely unexpected. They have some very good players that may be a bit snakebitten at the moment, most notably Nazem Kadri. Kadri has just 5 goals on 107 shots this season.
  • Enough about the Leafs. The Kings are awesome. Despite getting outshot badly by the Montreal Canadiens two nights ago, the Kings actually managed to keep pace with the Habs in scoring chances during 5v5 play. They've been out-Corsi'd a couple of times lately, but I don't see much cause for concern at this point. I'd expect them to outshoot the Leafs handily tonight, but that's why they play the games.
  • Sutter reunited the original That 70's Line today. This is perhaps the most balanced that the top-nine forwards have looked all season. Michael Mersch has (somewhat predictably) not looked out of place in the NHL, and he'll hopefully be able to bolster the Kings third line.
  • Trevor Lewis returns to the lineup tonight. He'll play on the 4th line. Let us never speak of the 4th line again.
  • Jake Muzzin will get his best shot to promote his Norris candidacy to the general NHL public tonight as the Kings make it to Hockey Night in Canada during prime time. Excited to see what he can do.
  • RIP Jordan Weal. You had a good run.
  • PREDICTION: Kings win 4-2. Go Kings.