With wins so hard to come by in the U.S. of late, let's see if the Caps can't find a win north of the border in Toronto, shall we? After all, the ACC has been somewhat hospitable to visitors because, as Leafs blueliner Pavel Kubina put it, "[W]e make stupid mistakes at home." Here's hoping that trend continues (though it might be hard with Bryan McCabe out of the lineup).
The Leafs come into Monday night's game with a two-game win streak after a pair of three-goal wins over the Penguins and Rangers. They're second in the League in goals per game (3.83), but have the third-worst team goals against average (3.67). Surprisingly, they're scoring all those goals with a power play that has somehow been worse than the Caps', clicking only 13% of the time. They shoot a ton and give up the most shots on goal against in the League. And here's a fun fact: the Leafs have won a League-worst 25% of the games in which they've scored first (only the Leafs and Sabres have won less than half of the games in which they've registered the initial tally).
In other words, expect some high-scoring, firewagon hockey (it's a damn shame Alex Semin is likely to miss this one, isn't it?).
Then again, Olie Kolzig was 2-0-0 with a 1.51 goals against average and a .958 save percentage against the Leafs last year, while Andrew Raycroft was 2-2-0, 2.26, .916 against the Caps in 2006-07 (likely Leafs starter Vesa Toskala has never faced the Caps). The Caps offense has struggled, but the goals against is still good (especially if you throw out that Buffalo debacle).
In other words, expect some low-scoring, tight-checking hockey (it's a damn shame Chris Clark is likely to miss this one, isn't it?).
Now that my bases are thoroughly covered, I'll leave you with one thought: it's really a damn shame Bryan McCabe is likely to miss this one, isn't it?
Update: Vesa Toskala will be in net for the Leafs.
Why The Leafs Will Win:
"Because our defensive liability (McCabe) is out for the game while yours (Poti) will be playing 25 minutes." - Pension Plan PuppetsElsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
Check out Leafs Breakfast, Leafs Lunch, and Bill Waters here.... Orland Kurtenblog (and Willie Mitchell) on AO.... The latest on Patrice Bergeron (and feel free to "Guess the Suspension" on Randy Jones).... The Times has a piece that should be read by anyone who believes that putting an NHL team in Las Vegas is a good idea.... Finally, check out Sam Gagner's game-winning shootout goal from last night. Smooth.
- Hart: Corey Perry (G, A, 5 SOG, 4 hits, 2 takeaways, 0 giveaways)
- Ross: Joes Sakic, Ryan Smyth, Corey Perry, Mikael Samuelsson (2 points each)
- Norris: Niklas Lidstrom (A, +2, 5 SOG, 2 blocked shots, 2 takeaways, 0 giveaways)
- Vezina: Mathieu Garon (W, 27 saves on 29 shots against in shootout win)
- Richard: 13 players tied with 1 goal apiece
- Calder: Andrew Cogliano (Game-tying shorthanded goal with 1:27 left, 2 SOG)
- Aiken: Henrik Sedin (0 points, -2, 1 SOG)