Game Day Watch, 11/2: Toronto Maple Leafs @ Los Angeles Kings
With the eyes of Los Angeles (mostly) back on the ice, the Kings return home.
HOW TO WATCH
Game Time: 7:30 PM
TV: Fox Sports West
Radio: KABC AM 790
Stream: Fox Sports Go (requires cable subscription)
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
if you’re a Kings fan: LA picked up eight points on a six-game road trip, and despite showing a bit of wear and tear in a tough matchup with St. Louis, they have to be pleased with where October has put them. They sit in first in the Pacific, with a six-point cushion for the playoffs after just 12 games. Even the recent loss won’t faze them, especially since there weren’t any glaring concerns to pounce on in the wake of it. They’ll look for more from their fourth line as Brooks Laich slots in for Nic Dowd, but otherwise, more of the same from Anze Kopitar, Jonathan Quick, and the rest wouldn’t be bad.
if you’re a Maple Leafs fan: A win in Anaheim ended a three-game losing streak, and while their top forward (Auston Matthews) and defenseman (Jake Gardiner) struggled quite a bit, they controlled play at 5v5 and survived a late scare from the home team. As expected, their first month has been up and down and the reactions have been similarly varied. (You probably heard all the reactions, because everyone hears about Toronto all the time.) Like LA, though, they’re probably satisfied with their current outlook, with 16 points in 13 games and a pretty muddled Eastern bubble. Doesn’t mean they wouldn’t take better goaltending, and they’ve finally gotten some. Can Curtis McElhinney keep it up?
if you’re a hockey fan: Watch as a city struggles with the turmoil of yesterday’s World Series defeat, in the way we know best: by flocking to a team which is winning lots of games! (Also, watch as the readers of Jewels from the Crown breathe a sigh of relief as the Dodgers stop getting mentioned in every other article.)
PLAYERS TO WATCH
for the Kings: Alex Iafallo. I’m sure I’ve predicted the 23-year-old getting his first goal a few times already, but tonight I’m doing it in the Game Day Watch, so it’s official this time! I mean, just think about all the 3-on-3 and power play time he’s starting to get, and just look at his shot locations during 5-on-5 play this season (via hockeyviz.com). It’s gotta happen.
for the Maple Leafs: Morgan Rielly. He’s not getting the most ice time among Toronto Maple Leafs blueliners, but he’s got the best point total and the best possession numbers. Unfortunately, the goaltending behind him has been disastrous, with the Leafs’ goalies posting an .859 SV%. Granted, that’s been the story for a number of others, but Rielly’s strong play is diminished by all those pucks in the net behind him. Think of it as a 2016-17 Jake Muzzin situation so far.
- What if Anze’s name really was “Ann-zee”? What if we all pronounce “Iafallo” wrong for two years? This is my biggest fear, though apparently Conor Sheary didn’t really care. [Pensburgh]
- The Ducks are still getting injured left and right, yet they still managed to push Toronto last night. [Anaheim Calling]
- The Kings’ October was very good. The Lightning’s? Absurd. [Raw Charge]/
And now, a phone call with Tyler Toffoli.
"I think we're doing a good job of putting a lot pressure on other teams and we're capitalizing on our chances." @tytoff16 @LAKings pic.twitter.com/35oYgGm93k— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) November 2, 2017