Game Day Preview #13, Toronto Maple Leafs @ Los Angeles Kings
The Leafs are on a back-to-back and playing their back-up goalie. Fun!
Preview: Toronto Maple Leafs (8-5-0) @ Los Angeles Kings (9-2-1)
How to Watch and What to Watch
The first team to beat the Kings in regulation travels to LA to meet up with them again, on the heels of the Kings’ second loss in regulation.
I feel like I need a flow-chart.
Since these teams met just a few weeks ago, the Leafs have gone 1-3, with their only win coming last night against the Anaheim Ducks. Their losses include a disastrous game against the Hurricanes (6-3 Carolina, with the Leafs falling behind, battling back for a tie, and then finishing the collapse in the third period) and a lopsided in shots but not points game against San Jose (39 shots for San Jose and three goals, 18 shots for Toronto and two goals).
The Leafs came out strong against a depleted Ducks team, playing essentially to a stalemate through forty minutes before sealing the win in the third with goals from Patrick Marleau and Leo Komarov. The Ducks were playing with a depleted team, and John Gibson decided to go on a bit of an adventure on the Leafs’ last goal, but a win’s a win.
John Gibson is way out of position on the 3-1 Leafs goal IMO pic.twitter.com/yLCOi4ceoy— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) November 2, 2017
Coming into Los Angeles on the latter half of a back-to-back, Mike Babcock’s going to tinker with his lineup, and -- what’s that? That’s Roman Polak’s music!
"What's happened since we brought back Roman?"— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) November 2, 2017
"Been slow and bad"
"We were fast and won"
"Bring back Roman again" https://t.co/DRZI7geptV
Advanced Stats: Leafs are worse at everything with Polak playing— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) November 2, 2017
Non-Advanced Stats: Leafs are 1-3 with Polak playing, 7-2 without pic.twitter.com/LCYXVTb7Lr
By all possible metrics, Roman Polak adds little to his team, and yet -- well, his one point on the season came against the Kings, so maybe there’s a method to Babcock’s tinkering.
On slightly more optimistic-for-Leafs-fans tinkering, Kasperi Kapanen, recently recalled from the Marlies, will draw in tonight. He’s someone who had little left to prove in the AHL -- last season he was a point-per-game player for the Marlies -- and who can grow into being a real scoring threat for the Leafs, who certainly don’t need any more of those.
As before, the Leafs are a fast team -- both in skating and in puck movement. Having had a taste of the Leafs’ style of play already, hopefully the Kings will be better prepared to meet them head on this time.
Based on the Kings’ morning skate, it looks like Nick Shore is back in the linuep, retaking his normal spot between Mike Cammalleri and Trevor Lewis. Brooks Laich moves down to center Andy Andreoff and Mike Amadio, who moves to right wing for the night. Amadio struggled a bit against the Blues, particularly on faceoffs, but then again, almost everyone struggled against the Blues. Amadio’s scoring skills perhaps aren’t the best for a fourth line role, particularly between Laich and Andreoff, who aren’t going to do him any favors in getting his first NHL point.
Oscar Fantenberg appears to have put his back issues behind him and will rejoin Kurtis MacDermid on the third pairing. A MacDermid/Folin pairing against the speedy Leafs gives me anxiety, so hopefully Fantenberg will be able to deliver some speed and puck movement, while MacDermid holds down the physical side of things.
Tanner Pearson, after going seven games without a goal, finally found the back of the net against St. Louis. Much like rookie Alex Iafallo, Pearson’s been doing all the right things and playing the exact right way, he just hasn’t been rewarded for it lately. Hopefully this goal will be the start of him lighting the lamp more frequently.
This game’s going to be fast. Either the Kings need to slow it down, or they need to find a way to keep up with the Leafs.
P.S., here’s a bonus GIF of Mitch Marner, solely because it makes me laugh.
Mitch Marner's dedication to stay onside is amazing pic.twitter.com/plY1Ojs7Zm— Flintor (@TheFlintor) November 2, 2017
Projected Line Combinations
Los Angeles Kings
Iafallo - Kopitar - Brown
Pearson - Kempe - Toffoli
Cammalleri - Shore - Lewis
Andreoff - Laich - Amadio
Forbort - Doughty
Muzzin - Martinez
MacDermid - Fantenberg
Toronto Maple Leafs
Hyman - Matthews - Nylander
Komarov - Kadri - Kapanen
Van Riemsdyk - Marleau - Brown
Martin - Bozak - Marner
Rielly - Hainsey
Gardiner - Zaitsev
Borgman - Polak
Opposing Preview: Pension Plan Puppets