A night after the Toronto Maple Leafs grabbed a big two points in Boston, they will get set to host a hungry Colorado Avalanche team coming off a 10-1 thumping at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.
Colorado’s had a tough go as of late losing seven of their last eight games and being out scored 36-18 over that span. The Leafs on the other hand have been relatively inconsistent in their results. They’ve won three of the last six – including losses to Calgary, Vancouver and Minnesota.
It’ll be the first time these two teams meet this season with the Leafs holding a slight edge when it comes to overall standing. The Leafs find themselves in 25th with 11 wins in their first 26 games while the Avs are dead last with 10 wins and 21 points in their first 26 games.
The Leafs will turn to yet another rookie in the hopes that he can lead them to back-to-back victories for the first time this season. Antoine Bibeau is expected to make his NHL debut tonight for the Leafs who could be in tough against Colorado.
Following their shellacking at the hands of the Canadiens, the Avs’ captain came out with some strong words regarding his team’s effort.
“Disappointing probably doesn’t even do it justice either,” said Gabriel Landeskog according to an article by Cory Wilkins. “It was embarrassing. We got our ass whooped tonight.”
The fortunate part of it all is that the Avs will be back on the ice tonight with an opportunity to wash that disappointment from their minds. While Bibeau has good numbers with the Marlies this season, his first start with the Leafs will be filled with angst, excitement and comes against a team pushing for a win.
Antoine Bibeau finally makes his NHL debut tonight. He has dressed for 16 Leaf games over the course of the past 3 seasons. #tmltalk
— Paul Hendrick (@HennyTweets) December 11, 2016
Colorado Avalanche at Toronto Maple Leafs
Air Canada Centre – 7:00 p.m. EST
Broadcast channels – Sportsnet and ALT
2016-17 Season Series: First meeting this season
Colorado Avalanche – 10-15-1 – 21 Points
Road Record: 6-7-0
Hot Players: Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Matt Duchene
Key Injuries: Erik Johnson
Rene Bourque-Nathan MacKinnon-Blake Comeau
Gabriel Landeskog-Carl Soderberg-Mikhail Grigorenko
Matt Duchene-John Mitchell-Mikko Rantanen
Andreas Martinsen-Joe Colborne-Jarome Iginla
Nikita Zadorov-Tyson Barrie
Patrick Wiercioch-Fedor Tyutin
Francois Beauchemin-Cody Goloubef
Toronto Maple Leafs – 11-10-5 – 27 Points
Home Record: 8-4-0
Hot Players: Auston Matthews, Tyler Bozak and Zach Hyman
Key Injuries: Joffrey Lupul, Martin Marincin
Leo Komarov-Nazem Kadri-Nikita Soshnikov
James van Riemsdyk-Tyler Bozak-Mitch Marner
Zach Hyman-Auston Matthews-William Nylander
Matt Martin-Ben Smith-Connor Brown
Morgan Rielly-Nikita Zaitsev
Jake Gardiner-Connor Carrick
Matt Hunwick-Roman Polak
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]1)[/miptheme_dropcap]Avs’ Duchene has three goals and six points in nine career games against Toronto – including a goal and four points in five games at the Air Canada Centre.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]2)[/miptheme_dropcap]While Frederik Andersen played last night and won’t get the start, it’s curious that the Leafs wouldn’t give the veteran a chance to play considering his numbers against Colorado. In two career games against the Avs, he has a goals against average of 2.00 and a .917 save percentage. Even with those numbers, Bibeau is expected to get the start for Toronto.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]3)[/miptheme_dropcap]With his goal last night, Auston Matthews has 12 goals and 20 points in 26 games and sits second on the team in scoring.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]4)[/miptheme_dropcap]Maple Leafs’ rookies have combined for 35 goals and 81 points so far this season. That total is by far the most combined by any team’s rookies.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]5)[/miptheme_dropcap]Marner is tied for third on the Leafs in scoring with Tyler Bozak (19). However, he hasn’t been able to put the puck in the net in eight straight games and comes into Sunday’s game with no points in his last four.
If the Leafs are able to pull out another victory against the Avs on Sunday, it will give them four points in just two games of their sixth five-game segment. They’ll have three more games to come up with the two points they need to match Babcock’s six-point goal. Another win will give the Leafs the opportunity to climb back into the playoff picture not just in the wild card race, but in the divisional race as well.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.