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.
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
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
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
[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.
[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.
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.