Preview: Leafs, Red Wings Meet With Playoff Implications

The Toronto Maple Leafs will be facing what could be considered a must-win game when the Detroit Red Wings come to town on Tuesday night. The divisional matchup is an important one for the Leafs as they sit on the cusp of a playoff spot in the tight Eastern Conference.

Tyler Bozak, NHL, Toronto Maple Leafs
Tyler Bozak has to be a leader on this young team if they hope to make the playoffs. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

For the Red Wings, it’s a matter of keeping their very slim postseason hopes alive. The Wings sit 10 points back of a wildcard spot and at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. This likely will spell the end of Detroit’s 25-year playoff run.

The Leafs have had three days off since their last game and with a little bit of rest, they will look to Frederik Andersen to get back on the horse and steal them a big game or two down the stretch. The entire team will have to find their early season spunk if they hope to lock down a playoff spot.

They will need guys like Nazem Kadri and Tyler Bozak to find their scoring touch again and hope that they can find a way to lock down leads in the third period. So far this season, the young squad has given up 14 third period leads. That’s something that can’t happen if they hope to get some playoff experience in 2016-17.

Detroit Red Wings at Toronto Maple Leafs

Air Canada Centre – 7:30 p.m. EST

Broadcast channels – TVAS, TSN4 and FS-D

2016-17 Season Series:
January 1 – Maple Leafs 5 – Red Wings 4 (OT)
January 25 – Maple Leafs 4 – Red Wings 0

Detroit Red Wings – 25-27-11 – 61 Points

Road Record: 13-13-6

Hot Players: Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader

Key Injuries: Jonathan Ericsson, Joe Vitale, Ryan Sproul and Jimmy Howard

Projected Lines:


Gustav Nyquist-Henrik Zetterberg-Tomas Tatar

Andreas Athanasiou-Frans Nielsen-Anthony Mantha

Justin Abdelkader-Darren Helm-Dylan Larkin

Riley Sheahan-Luke Glendening-Drew Miller


Dan DeKeyser-Mike Green

Niklas Kronwall-Nick Jensen

Xavier Ouellet-Robbie Russo


Petr Mrazek (expected)

Toronto Maple Leafs – 28-22-14 – 70 Points

Home Record: 15-10-6

Hot Players: Auston Matthews and William Nylander

Key Injuries: Connor Carrick and Joffrey Lupul

Projected Lines:


Zach Hyman-Auston Matthews-William Nylander

James van Riemsdyk-Tyler Bozak-Mitch Marner

Leo Komarov-Nazem Kadri-Connor Brown

Matt Martin-Brian Boyle-Nikita Soshnikov


Morgan Rielly-Nikita Zaitsev

Jake Gardiner-Alexey Marchenko

Matt Hunwick-Roman Polak


Frederik Andersen

Game Notes

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]1)[/miptheme_dropcap]The Leafs are 2-0 against the Red Wings this season – including a 5-4 overtime win in the NHL’s Centennial Classic in Toronto on New Years Day. In their all-time series, the Wings hold a 283-277-93-6 record against their divisional counterparts while the Leafs have out scored them 1,890 to 1,866 over that span.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]2)[/miptheme_dropcap]Auston Matthews has some catching up to do in the NHL’s rookie scoring race. Through 64 games this season, the Leafs’ rookie has 31 goals and 24 assists. He sits four points back of Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine, but sits tied for third in NHL goal scoring behind Laine and Sidney Crosby.

Henrik Zetterberg, NHL, Detroit Red Wings, World Cup of Hockey, Sweden
Henrik Zetterberg is one goal shy of jumping up the franchise’s all-time list. (Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]3)[/miptheme_dropcap]The next goal for Henrik Zetterberg will be his 324th of his career with the Red Wings. The milestone will tie him with Norm Ullman for sixth on the franchise’s all-time list for goals – behind just Ted Lindsay (335), Sergei Fedorov (400), Alex Delvecchio (456), Steve Yzerman (692) and Gordie Howe (786). That’s some pretty good company for the Wings’ captain.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]4)[/miptheme_dropcap]Niklas Kronwall is seeking his 300th career assist. Right now, he’s sitting at 299 in 777 career regular season games. The milestone would make him just the 108th defenceman in NHL history to reach the 300-assist mark.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]5)[/miptheme_dropcap]Two Leafs defensemen are looking to climb the franchise’s all-time list in points. Jake Gardiner needs just one point to pass Red Horner (152) for 18th on the franchise list, while Morgan Rielly will pass Mike Pelyk (114) and tie Cody Franson (115) for 22nd on the team’s all-time list with one point of his own.

With the Red Wings an extreme long shot to make the playoffs, this is a game that the Maple Leafs have to take advantage of. The Islanders and Bruins have both had big losses this week that opens the door for the Leafs to put themselves back into a potential playoff spot. That being said, anything can happen between these two teams and it should be a good matchup.