The Maple Leafs will be looking to start a fresh win streak when they host the San Jose Sharks to open up a four-game home stand. The Leafs will be in tough as they take on the Sharks followed by the Coyotes, Penguins and Ducks over that six-day span.
But first up are the Sharks who are coming off a 4-3 win against the Hurricanes on Saturday. The Sharks could have a new face in the lineup in rookie defenceman Mirco Mueller who they recently called up from the San Jose Barracuda. While there’s no guarantee that Mueller makes an appearance, it will remain dependent on whether Marc-Edouard Vlasic sits or not after playing under 10 minutes against the Hurricanes.
The Leafs, on the other hand, likely won’t be making any changes to their lineup following their latest loss at the hands of the lowly Colorado Avalanche. The Leafs fired 52 shots on Semyon Varlamov in that game, but could only find the back of the net once losing 3-1. The only change they’ll see is between the pipes as their starting tender – Frederik Andersen – will be back in the crease for the blue and white.
The Leafs will look to hand the Sharks their first loss in Toronto in 15 years but will be in tough against a goaltender who’s proven his worth in a Sharks uniform and a team that is currently sitting in the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Toronto currently sits seven points behind Boston for third in the Atlantic Division and 10 points behind Washington for the second wild-card spot in the East. A win against this tough west coast opponent will not only give them four points in three games of their five-game segment, but it will put the Leafs a game over .500 midway through December.
This will be the first meeting between the two clubs this season, with the Maple Leafs and Sharks set to do battle again in San Jose on February 28.
San Jose Sharks at Toronto Maple Leafs
Air Canada Centre – 7:30 p.m. EST
Broadcast channels – TSN4 and CSN-CA
2016-17 Season Series: First meeting this season
San Jose Sharks – 16-11-1 – 33 Points
Road Record: 6-7-1
Hot Players: Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns and Logan Couture
Key Injuries: Tomas Hertl, David Schlemko, Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Patrick Marleau-Joe Thornton-Joe Pavelski
Kevin Labanc-Logan Couture-Joel Ward
Mikkel Boedker-Chris Tierney-Joonas Donskoi
Micheal Haley-Tommy Wingels-Melker Karlsson
Paul Martin-Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic-Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon-Dylan DeMelo
Extra: Mirco Mueller
Toronto Maple Leafs – 11-11-5 – 27 Points
Home Record: 8-5-0
Hot Players: Auston Matthews, Matt Hunwick and Frederik Andersen
Key Injuries: Joffrey Lupul and 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]The Sharks have seven natives of Ontario on their roster – including two from Guelph (Couture and Haley), two from London (Thornton and DeMelo), one from Keswick (Tierney), one from North York (Ward) and one from Barrie (Burns).
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]2)[/miptheme_dropcap]The Sharks top line of Pavelski (7g-7a), Thornton (10g-30a) and Marleau (10g-9a) have combined for 27 goals and 73 points in 76 career games against the Maple Leafs.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]3)[/miptheme_dropcap]Even though the Leafs have had a rough go against the Sharks in recent years, the Leafs actually hold a winning record against their Western Conference foe. In 45 games between these two clubs, the Leafs hold a 20-19-5-1 record against the Sharks. Over that span they’ve outscored San Jose 134-128, scoring just under three goals per game.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]4)[/miptheme_dropcap]The Maple Leafs have scored 45 goals at the Air Canada Centre this season in just 13 games. That’s an average of 3.46 goals per game at home which could play into the Leafs favour.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]5)[/miptheme_dropcap]On the other hand, the Sharks have only scored 34 goals on the road in 14 games – averaging just 2.42 goals per game on the road. They’ve also only given up 34 on the road which isn’t a bad sign either.
Based on the numbers, the Leafs could come away with a big two points on Tuesday against a better team on paper. That being said, they’re going up against yet another hot goaltender in Jones who’s carrying a .920 save percentage and a 2.08 goals against average to go along with his 13 wins this season. While the two teams don’t meet each other that often, this should be a good, fast-paced game to watch with its fair share of chippy play 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.