Preview: Leafs Try to Ice Crosby, Penguins

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.

Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs, NHL
Auston Matthews has been the hottest Leaf over the past few weeks. (Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports)

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

Projected Lines:


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


Marc-Andre Fleury

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

Projected Lines:


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


Frederik Andersen

Game Notes

[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).

Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh Penguins, NHL
The Leafs will need to shut down their former mate who has 31 points in 31 games this season. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

[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.