Posts tagged “Leafs”

Game Day Notes: @ Toronto

… This is the one and only meeting between the Wings and Leafs this season. The Wings improved their record in the lifetime series to 334-334-93 with their 4-2 win last March.

… Toronto is 20-15-5, which is good for 8th in the East.

… They’re coming off a pair of wins to start 2012, starting with a 7-3 decision over Tampa Bay and followed by a 4-0 shutout of Winnepeg on Thursday. Prior to that, they’d lost three in a row (0-2-1).

… In a bit of bad timing for the Wings, the Leafs are getting healthy just in time for tonight’s game. Mike Komisarek is scheduled back, as is Dan Brown. And Dion Phaneuf should be in despite taking a puck to the face Thursday.

… Colby Armstron, Tyler Bozak, and John-Michael Liles remain out, however.

… Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul lead the Leafs in scoring by far, with 46 and 45 points respectively. Phaneuf’s 27 are next in the standings. Kessel’s got 23 goals, so he’s the scoring threat, while Lupul’s got 27 assists, which puts him marginally above Kessel and his 23 as the playmaking threat.

They’ve got four guys in double-digit goals: Mikhail Grabovkski and Clarke MacArthur aside from Kessel and Lupul. But their goals per game average is good for fifth in the League so they’re pretty balanced in terms of production.

… Jonas Gustavsson will be the starter.

… The Wings are coming off a pair of wins themselves, beginning with their 3-0 shutout of the Blues on Saturday and continuing with a closer-than-necessary 5-4 win over the Stars on Tuesday.

… They’re just one point behind the Blackhawks and could make up for their failure against the Hawks last month with a win tonight and a followup win tomorrow in Chicago.

… They’ll be without Tomas Holmstrom and Darren Helm for at least one more game, as both are still out with groin issues. Patrick Eaves also remains out.

… As a result, Gustav Nyquist will be in at least one more game and he’ll be joined on the fourth line by Chris Conner, who replaces Joakim Andersson.

… Jakub Kindl makes his return to the lineup tonight at the expense of Mike Commodore, who will temporarily go back to not feeling like an actual hockey player, presumably.

… Jimmy Howard gets yet another start tonight. He wasn’t at his best Tuesday, but should be motivated to be at it tonight.

… This is definite must-watch hockey on any other night, but thanks to the Detroit Lions finally getting into the playoffs for the first time since 1999, Leafs or not, my viewing for the night is set on football. I’ll be watching the start of this one, but once 8:00 rolls around…

I hope the Wings are more focused on their game than that. The Leafs have been pushovers at times in recent years, but this season, they’re more dangerous and thus need to be taken more seriously than usual.

Wings 4, Maple Leafs 2

First: The latest on Jimmy: sounds like he’s definitely out for tomorrow night’s game. The Wings will recall “somebody” but that has to be Jordan Pearce.

But unless the MRI showed something surprising, Jimmy shouldn’t miss too much time.

Also: Remember. This is a goal. This is not.

On to the Game: The Wings started out strong. They carried the play for the first minutes and took the lead just after the 5:00 mark with Zetterberg’s goal. Then, it seemed to me, they kind of let off the gas a bit and that largely stuck through the Lupul goal. After the Zetterberg goal, the Leafs were competitive and in the game, though not overly threatening. But they did tie the game up at the end of the first, when another five minutes of the Wings’ initial effort following Z’s goal might have been enough to put the Leafs down two.

The Wings took the lead again in the second, but it didn’t last a period before Joffrey Lupul was falling on Jimmy Howard and knocking in the puck to tie it again. The Wings didn’t get serious about winning the game again until after they’d given up the lead twice. Sure, the Leafs played hard, knowing their playoff lives were on the line, but ideally, they don’t tie up the game twice.

Lebda: We’ve never been big bashers of Brett Lebda around here, but I have to say he was underwhelming last night. He was on the power play for the Leafs and I can’t remember a single thing he did right. He didn’t have the best finish to his time in Detroit, following a curve similar to Jonathan Ericsson down from an earlier competency level to something much less useful, but he looks to have really stepped off the edge in his time in Toronto. That’s too bad. He’s got some obvious talent, between his skating ability and offensive sense (don’t laugh), but obviously he’s deep in a rut that maybe he’ll never get out of.

Zetterberg: Though he only recently started scoring again, I’ve been impressed with Z the past few weeks. He’s leading the charge more often than not and that continued last night. He’s doing exactly what he’s supposed to be doing.

Abdelkader and Helm: Those two had a ton of chances last night and couldn’t bury any of them. Frustrating.

MacDonald: Clearly, he can’t be allowed to warm up before going in. That includes any starts he might get. He’s proven himself to be a great backup, doing exactly what a backup needs to do (apart from taking some of the start heat off the #1).

Hudler: Lucked out that Reimer completely whiffed on that shot, but perfect timing for that one. Maybe saved the game for the Wings.

But I couldn’t get any satisfaction out of that goal, with Jimmy’s status still uncertain. I still felt sick from the Lupul goal.

Bertuzzi Seals It: Now, I did get satisfaction from this one, because it came with the knowledge that it might very well mean the Leafs’ playoff hopes are dead. At that point, I thought, “well, our goalie may be out for a while, but at least your playoff push last probably failed.” It feels even better now that it seems Jimmy  may not be out long.

Next: The first of three big games against Chicago in the final weeks of the season. These are games the Wings have to win. The Predators are their #1 competitor for the Central lead, but losing to Chicago at this stage wouldn’t be good, even given how the Hawks have fallen off a bit lately.

Game Day Notes: vs. Toronto

Update (12:20 PM): I missed Khan’s latest before publishing: Bertuzzi and Ericsson are in, Salei is scratched for Kindl. Jan Mursak has been returned to Grand Rapids. - Matt

… This is the only game between these two Original Six teams this season. The Wings are 333-334-93 against the Leafs historically, per Detroit Hockey.

… The Leafs have won their last three as they continue a playoff push that borders of miraculous given how poorly their season started. They’re five points back of the 8th place team (Buffalo, who they play Tuesday) and cannot afford any losses, so they’ll be gunning for the Wings tonight.

… This is the third game in a road trip that included stops in Minnesota and Colorado thus far. The Leafs played Thursday, so they’re slightly less rested than the Wings.

… Colton Orr and Colby Armstrong will be out for Toronto tonight.

… James Reimer,  a rookie, will start tonight for the Leafs. The official site points out this stat line on the kid:

With Reimer starting the Maple Leafs are 16-7-4. They are 10-1-3 when he makes 30 or more saves.

He’s also 8-0-1 on the road. The Wings need to avoid their usual thing of making young goalies look good and just shell him.

… The Wings have lost their last three, including a 2-1 decision to the Canucks on Wednesday.

… Their 95 points is good for second in the West for the moment, but San Jose also has 95 points and is poised to pass them. They maintain a five point lead in the division over Nashville, but that gap can close all too easily if they don’t start picking up the pace.

… The Wings will definitely be without Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen tonight, and may be without Todd Bertuzzi, whose status will be determined during the skate. Datsyuk told Bill Roose yesterday that there’s no guarantee he’ll be back before the playoffs. Which is just awesome.

… Jonathan Ericsson was sick yesterday and missed practice. There’s a chance he doesn’t play tonight.

… Jimmy Howard will start again for the Wings, and is again backed up by former Leaf Joey MacDonald. Chris Osgood, by the way, has another son: Max Anthony. Congrats to the Osgoods!

… There are a couple typical trends the Wings will need to avoid tonight: 1) the game is nationally televised, at least in Canada. 2) it’s a home game against a team with a goalie that thrives on the road. In neither case does it seem they typically perform at their best. Fortunately, the Original Six factor should mean an elevation of their play.

Whatever motivates them, though, this has to be the start of a late push in their season. There are 8 games left and there isn’t much room to coast to the finish line. Time to start warming up the playoff engine.

Game Day Notes: @ Toronto


… In the post-work hustle to get going, I forgot to set the DVR. So I’ve seen nothing of last night’s game. But it sounds like a fun one: 7 goals, four of which were on the power play; two goals from Hudler, two assists from Modano (maybe that line can get some chemistry-enhancing time in after all); goals from Franzen and Zetterberg as well as Jakub Kindl; and a win in a game the team should win. Sorry I missed it.

… Especially after looking at the roster for tonight. Not exactly loading up again with last night’s lineup, which is entirely unsurprising. But it still makes for what could be an interesting night, even if the Leafs ice their equivalent roster (though that’s not looking promising. See the Next Up section.).

… It looks like we’ll see our old friend JS Giguere at the Leafs end of the ice. Fun times. Remember, Griffwings, it’s not 2003 any more.

… Jimmy Howard will almost certainly “see a lot of rubber,” as Babcock (gleefully?) put it with that lineup.

… Especially with that first pairing. It’ll be interesting to watch those two play together. I’ll be looking at the contrasts, if any. It’s one thing to have Kindl play well with other defensive partners, but how will he do with another young one? Same for Ericsson. One or both of them are going to have to step up to the plate (or the slot if you want to hockey-fy that—just don’t take it literally, Jonny).

… Also, Ritola’s chances are running out. A night on the top line is just another in a series of glorious opportunities he’s had since his ear drum issue was resolved. How much you want to bet Miller still impresses more tonight?

… Just two more of these, folks, and after a break of a couple days, we get real hockey back.

Game Day Notes: vs. Toronto

We’re getting closer and closer to hockey that matters. And maybe helping the sense of anticipation is the last three games, which involve opponents that mean a little extra to us, right?

… Kicking off this weekend’s three-in-three is Toronto, which has managed a 4-2-1 record so far in the pre-season. They’re coming off a 4-3 win over Ottawa on Wednesday and will face their first Western Conference opponent tonight.

… A guy looking to make an impression tonight will be Nazim Kadri, who had a big game against the Senators and who is working to force Leafs management to keep him in the NHL. That’s looking like it’s not going to happen no matter what he does, though, as David Shoalts reports he’s a Marlie regardless. Still, keep an eye on him.

… The official Leafs blog has the lineup here, along with some other game day notes.

… Noted fan favorite in Hockeytown Brett Lebda will not be in the lineup tonight as he has a shoulder injury. I’m sure there’s much disappointment about that news.

… No idea who Jussi Rynnas is, but he’s starting for the Leafs.

… The Wings are coming off another ugly pre-season loss Wednesday, a 5-1 bomb in New York. I didn’t see the game or have a chance to listen to it, but it sounds like the defense wasn’t so hot. And that Howard wasn’t quite as sharp as needed. Here’s hoping the former changes tonight and that Jimmy spends his time watching the game from the luxury box thinking about the latter.

… The lineup for tonight is here, with one change. Todd Bertuzzi will sit out with a sore back. Mattias Ritola better come to the rink with some lottery tickets because it’s his lucky day: he’s getting a bonus chance to prove himself by playing on the second line rather than on the fourth. Meanwhile, Miller’s not taking anything for granted and neither is Maltby.

… In other injury news, Draper skated yesterday but “gingerly,” Eaves is still off the ice with that ankle injury, and Meech is still feeling the effects of that concussion (which pretty much screws him out of anything but an AHL job).

… You may have noticed that the lineup’s looking pretty strong tonight. As Ansar Khan pointed out, it’s the best the Wings have iced this pre-season. So maybe it’s significant that one name you don’t see is Jonathan Ericsson. Instead, you see Jakub Kindl. It may not mean anything, but I really think Jonny’s grip on the 6th spot is slipping.

… Osgood was originally scheduled to play tonight, but recent cut Thomas McCollum will start (pre-season hockey: rules are flexible, I guess) despite playing last night in a Griffins scrimmage loss to the Monsters. Former Leaf Joey MacDonald will back him up.

… The Wings are icing enough of their main guys tonight that they should be able to take care of the Leafs. It’s still pre-season, though, so take nothing for granted.

… I unthinkingly made plans for us tonight that didn’t involve the game, so we’ll have it on DVR and try to watch it late tonight. So no tweeting it as it happens.

Game Day Notes: @ Toronto

Update (12:38 PM): Elliotte Friedman tweeted a few minutes ago:

No Eaves tonight for Wings

He doesn’t offer any further information on whether it’s a healthy scratch or because he’s sick or injured.

If it’s a healthy scratch, I’ll be a little pissed. Eaves has been very good since Edmonton and has earned the priviledge of not being unceremoniously dumped from the lineup for Brad May. I like May, but Eaves is bringing more to the table right now. Is May’s pugilism really necessary tonight when you could have Eaves’ speed and chemistry with the other third liners?

But that’s assuming he’s a healthy scratch (probably a good assumption—someone has to sit for May—, but an assumption nonetheless). It could be, though, that he’s just sick, which would be another easy assumption to make given the bug going around.

Anyway, I’ll be away from the computer up until gametime, so no more updates from me this afternoon. If my alternate account is functional, I’ll be livetweeting at OtW_InGame. – Matt

A nicely paradoxical meeting tonight: “Yeah! O6 matchup with the Leafs! History FTW!” but “Oh, they suck this year so…” But it’s the weekend leading up to the Hockey Hall of Fame inductions, which includes honoring Steve Yzerman and two one-time Wings, so that’ll make it more special.

… For the second game in a row, the Wings will face a team that played the night before. The Leafs won the Battle of the Bottom in Carolina last night to take their second win of the season and improve to a 2-7-5 record.

… They held on by the “skin of their chinny chin chin” last night (direct quote from the Leafs TV announcer—thanks, On the Fly), so maybe they’re even more tired than is usual for the second game of a back-to-back. On top of that, they had to fly home from Carolina.

… The Leafs are 0-4-2 at home this season.

TSN helpfully points out that they’ve won their last two against the Wings. I don’t want to think about that.

… The Leafs big off-season offensive acquisition Phil Kessel has played two games for the Leafs since coming back from a shoulder surgery he had while a Bruin. He’s goalless, but he’s apparently looking pretty good. I can only hope Kronwall greets him in the same way Ohlund did the other night.

… The other big off-season acquisition, Jonas Gustavsson, was in net for the Leafs last night and made 34 saves. I haven’t seen anything official, but it looks like he’ll be in net again. He’s a big guy and a pretty good goalie. Should be a good test for the Wings’ offense.

… The Wings have won three in a row, including a shootout win over San Jose on Thursday. They’ll be looking to do something similar against a team at the other end of the standings this time around and you know how that can turn out to be more complicated than you’d think.

… Brad May’s supposed to return to the lineup tonight and he’ll be wearing a visor. I wonder how long that’ll last. No word yet on who he’ll replace. It’ll be a tough case for Babcock to make, as each of the forwards are playing well lately.

… Nothing official on the starter for the Wings, but Osgood should be in net.

… This game should be a gimme. Which is exactly why it probably won’t be. The Wings need to come in expecting to have to work hard, because even slumping Original Six teams get up to play other Original Six teams. They can’t take a win for granted.

Make it four, guys.