National Hockey League action on Monday evening and a pair of teams from the North Division will square off as the Vancouver Canucks grapple with the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario. The Canucks enter this game at 6-9 on the year while the Maple Leafs come in at 9-3. Toronto has taken the first two games in this three-game set.
NAME: Toronto Maple Leafs – Vancouver Canucks
DATE: 9 Feb 2021
TIME: 00:00 UTC
VENUE: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, Canada
The Canucks Have Lost Four In A Row
Vancouver got off to a slow 2-5 start before winning four games in a row.
They have countered that four-game winning streak by losing their last four games. During the winning streak, the Canucks allowed just one goal in each game, but they have allowed 23 goals during the four-game skid.
That includes allowing 12 goals through the first two games of this series. Vancouver is now just 2-7 on the road, and they have been outscored by 18 goals in those games. They are just not playing well overall, and especially on the road. Still, the Canucks are tied with the Oilers for 4th in the North Division.
We also note that it has been feast or famine for the Canucks as five of their six wins have been by two goals or more while all nine losses have been by two goals or more, and eight of them have been by three or more.
In the last game, they fell to the Leafs by a score of 5-1, and scoring their lone goal was Brock Boeser, which was his 9th of the year. It came with just 2:04 left in the game to avoid being shutout.
Absorbing the loss was Braden Holtby, who allowed five goals on 34 shot attempts to fall to 3-4 with a 3.83 GAA on the year, including 1-3 with a 4.26 GAA on the road. He is 10-7 with a 2.57 GAA against the Leafs in his career.
Thatcher Demko is expected to get the nod in this one, and he has gone 3-5 with a 3.81 GAA on the year, including 1-4 with a 4.30 GAA on the road. Demko is 0-2 with a 5.08 GAA against the Leafs in his career.
Team Stats & Rankings: Vancouver enters this contest ranked 14th in scoring at 3.20 gpg, 18th in shots per game at 30.2, and 19th in power-play conversions at 17.0%. At the defensive end of the ice, they are ranked 30th in goals allowed at 4.00, 31st in shots per game allowed at 35.7, and 15th in penalty kill at 80.0%.
Now sporting six wins in their last seven games and 12 goals in the last two games against Vancouver, the Toronto Maple Leafs, despite suffering another long-term injury, will look to complete a clean sweep in their third consecutive meeting with the fast-imploding Canucks (7 p.m. EST, Sportsnet Ontario).
Wayne Simmonds’ bad break — a clearance from Alex Edler that struck him on the wrist — during Saturday’s game seems to have concluded in the worst possible way, as the 31-year-old will be out approximately a month-and-a-half with a broken wrist.
Although they both started skating on their own again today, Simmonds joins Joe Thornton and Nick Robertson as forwards dealing with injuries at the moment. Travis Dermott is still dealing with something minor as well, while Jack Campbell remains on IR and has yet to skate.
The only player who has been on the Leafs‘ roster all season but hasn’t played, Rasmus Sandin, will make his season debut tonight. It has no doubt been a tough few weeks for the former first-rounder, who remained out of the lineup multiple times even when Sheldon Keefe dressed 11 forwards and seven defensemen.
Following that experiment, Pierre Engvall, Travis Boyd, and Nic Petan were all thrust into roles as the Leafs went back to 12 forwards. Tonight, after Simmonds’ injury, they will return to 11F/7D and will have both Mikko Lehtonen and Rasmus Sandin in the lineup.
Based on morning skate lines, it will be Alexander Barabanov who enters into the lineup tonight at forward, with Nic Petan sitting out. We can expect some experimentation with the second winger on the Tavares-Nylander line, while the Alex Kerfoot and Travis Boyd lines will be shuffling quite a bit in order for Keefe to observe more combinations now that three forwards who played on opening night are on the mend.
Canucks head coach Travis Green was somewhat tight-lipped in his pre-game availability, but he did mention that Olli Juolevi will make his season debut tonight. The 22-year-old has had a tough development curve after he was drafted fifth overall back in 2016.
His first post-draft year was solid, but since then, he’s struggled to live up to expectations at the AHL level and become a consistent offensive threat. He has 38 points in 63 games with Utica (AHL) the last two seasons.
Without much in the way of adjustments to make, the Canucks will just simply have to be much more competitive tonight if they’re to keep the game close. Vancouver fans will be justifiably outraged if the team allows itself to be swept in two straight series (vs. MTL and TOR) without pride kicking in at some point. Given the Leafs‘ uneven lineup at forward, the Canucks will hope that their depth can match up with Toronto better than it has in the last two games.
Speaking of the last two games, here’s a simple rundown of the five-on-five stats from these two lopsided Leafs-Canucks matchups:
Canucks Projected Lines
Maple Leafs Friday Practice Lines