The Toronto Maple Leafs will be looking to slow down one of the league’s hottest players and the best team in the NHL’s Metropolitan Division in Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Crosby has 21 goals and 33 points – good enough for first and third in the league respectively. The superstar forward has a goal and two points in one game against the Leafs this season while his career numbers are also impressive. In 35 career games against the Leafs, Crosby has 23 goals and 53 points – averaging over 1.5 points per game.
On the other side of the puck, the Leafs will be looking to end a three game losing skid in which they’ve only five goals against the Avalanche, Sharks and Coyotes.
Over that span, Leafs’ rookie Auston Matthews has been one of the hottest players for the blue and white both offensively and defensively – coming up with some big plays in his own end.
The Penguins and Leafs have played once already this season with the Penguins taking that game 4-1 back on November 12. This is the second of three match-ups between the two clubs with the final game coming on April 8.
Looking at the Leafs, they’re ninth in goals per game and 22nd in goals against. Offensively, they are led by Matthews who has 23 points with Mitch Marner and James van Riemsdyk right behind him with 21 apiece.
While the Leafs did recall Jhonas Enroth from the Toronto Marlies, Frederik Andersen is expected to make the start in search of his 12th win of the season.
Pittsburgh Penguins at Toronto Maple Leafs
Air Canada Centre – 7:00 p.m. EST
Broadcast channels – CBC and ROOT
2016-17 Season Series: November 12 – Penguins 4 – Maple Leafs 1
Pittsburgh Penguins – 20-7-4 – 44 Points
Road Record: 7-5-2
Hot Players: Sidney Crosby, Bryan Rust and Matt Murray
Key Injuries: Kris Letang
Conor Sheary-Sidney Crosby-Patric Hornqvist
Carl Hagelin-Evgeni Malkin-Phil Kessel
Chris Kunitz-Nick Bonino-Bryan Rust
Scott Wilson-Matt Cullen-Tom Kuhnhackl
Olli Maatta-Trevor Daley
Brian Dumoulin-Derrick Pouliot
Ian Cole-Justin Schultz
Toronto Maple Leafs – 11-11-7 – 29 Points
Home Record: 8-5-2
Hot Players: Auston Matthews and Frederik Andersen
Key Injuries: Martin Marincin and Joffrey Lupul
Leo Komarov-Nazem Kadri-Connor Brown
James van Riemsdyk-Tyler Bozak-Mitch Marner
Zach Hyman-Auston Matthews-William Nylander
Matt Martin-Ben Smith-Nikita Soshnikov
Morgan Rielly-Nikita Zaitsev
Jake Gardiner-Connor Carrick
Matt Hunwick-Roman Polak
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]1)[/miptheme_dropcap]The Maple Leafs and Penguins have faced off 177 times over their existence. Over that time, the Leafs hold a record of 77-76-17-7. However, they have been outscored by the Penguins over that span by 18 goals (636-618).
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]2)[/miptheme_dropcap]Crosby has a point in 20 of his 25 games this season. He had a point in nine straight games until the Penguins lost 1-0 to the Los Angeles Kings last night.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]3)[/miptheme_dropcap]Phil Kessel has played 22 career games against his former club – the Leafs. He has eight goals and 12 points over that span. So far this season, he has 10 goals and 31 points in 31 games.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]4)[/miptheme_dropcap]Marc-Andre Fleury might be seeing his time in Pittsburgh coming to an end this season. He’s played in 18 of the team’s 31 games so far (having started 17) with an 8-5-3 record. His 3.42 goals against average and .900 save percentage certainly aren’t where the team or Fleury want them to be.
The Leafs will be in tough against a Metropolitan team that has been on a role all season. Crosby and Kessel are off to incredible starts with their secondary players having played their roles perfectly as well. The Leafs will need to contain those two players and have a strong game defensively if they want to stand a chance against one of the league’s top offences.
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.