Preview: Maple Leafs & Islanders to Battle in Brooklyn

The Toronto Maple Leafs head to Brooklyn to meet the New York Islanders in a battle between two teams struggling on defense and fighting for playoff berths in the Eastern Conference.

The Maple Leafs ended a three-game losing streak Saturday with an exciting 6-5 win over the Boston Bruins. But the Leafs has allowed five or more goals in each of their last three games. Meanwhile, the Islanders lost in overtime Saturday night to the Carolina Hurricanes. The Isles are now 0-1-1 in their last two games. The Isles allowed 10 goals in those two games against two teams out of playoff hunt.

Thomas Greiss will be back in goal for the Islanders. The German-born goalie sports a 15-8-3 record with a 2.35 GAA and a .924 save percentage. Greiss has played very well since becoming the undisputed number one goalie for the Isles.

Toronto will turn to Frederik Andersen in net. Andersen won his 22nd game of the season on Saturday. He has a 2.67 GAA and a save percentage of .917 playing in front of the inconsistent Toronto defense.  Andersen has won three of his last four decisions.

Many eyes will be on the matchup between the respective teams’ franchise players: John Tavares and Auston Matthews. Tavares comes into the game red-hot, having scored nine goals and 16 points since Jan 13. Matthews, meanwhile, earned three assists against Boston Saturday although he was held without a point in the three games prior to that contest.

Toronto Maple Leafs at New York Islanders

Barclays Center – 7:00 PM EST

Broadcast Channels: MSG-Plus 2 and SN

2016-17 Season Series: Oct 30, 2016: Islanders 5, Maple Leafs 1

New York Islanders – 22-18-10 – 54 points

Home Record: 16-8-6

Hot Players: Anders Lee, Josh Bailey, John Tavares, Nick Leddy

Key Injuries: Travis Hamonic, Cal Clutterbuck

Projected Lines:


Anders Lee – John Tavares – Josh Bailey

Anthony Beauvillier – Brock Nelson – Ryan Strome

Andrew Ladd – Alan Quine – Jason Chimera

Shane Prince – Casey Cizikas – Nikolay Kulemin


Nick Leddy – Johnny Boychuk

Thomas Hickey – Adam Pelech

Calvin de Haan – Dennis Seidenberg

Starting Goaltender:

Thomas Greiss


Toronto Maple Leafs – 24-17-9 – 57 points

Road Record: 12-9-6

Hot Players: William Nylander, Mitchell Marner, James van Riemsdyk

Key Injuries: None

Projected Lines:


Leo Komarov – Nazem Kadri – William Nylander

James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozek – Mitchell Marner

Zach Hyman – Auston Matthews – Connor Brown

Matt Martin – Ben Smith – Nikita Soshnikov


Morgan Rielly – Nikita Zaitsev

Jake Gardiner – Connor Carrick

Martin Marincin – Roman Polak

Starting Goaltender:

Frederik Andersen

Game Notes

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]1)[/miptheme_dropcap] Scoring first is important for both of these teams. The Maple Leafs are 19-5-5 when taking a 1-0 lead in games while they are just 5-12-4 when the opposition scores first. The Islanders are 16-6-6 when scoring first and 6-12-4 when falling behind early.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]2)[/miptheme_dropcap] The Islanders will have their hands full trying to stop the Leafs potent power play. The Islanders PK has been better of late, but it still ranks just 18th in the league. The Maple Leafs power play ranks second with a 23.5 percent success rate. Nazem Kadri leads the team with 10 power-play goals.

Nazem Kadri, Toronto Maple Leafs, NHL
Nazem Kadri (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]3)[/miptheme_dropcap] Neither of these teams shines in the third period. The Leafs are dreadful, having been outscored 51-42 in the third period this season. The Islanders are only marginally better, scoring 53 goals while allowing 57.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]4)[/miptheme_dropcap] John Tavares usually plays his best against Toronto, possibly due to being seen by his friends and family back home. In 24 career games against the Leafs, the Islanders captain has 12 goals and 26 points including an assist in this year’s meeting.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]5)[/miptheme_dropcap] Defense has been a real problem for the Leafs all season. They have allowed 40 or more shots on goal in eight games already. Surprisingly, the Maple Leafs are 4-3-1 in those games.


Both of these teams are fighting for playoff position in the Eastern Conference. The Islanders cannot afford another loss after earning just one point against Detroit and Carolina this past weekend. The Isles got back into the playoff picture with their 6-0-1 streak, but need to sustain consistent play to stay in contention.

The Leafs are just two points behind the Flyers in the race for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, but Toronto has three games in hand. Of course, those games only help if they earn points in them. With a win, the Leafs could pull to within a point of the idle Flyers. If the Islanders win in regulation, they would be just one point behind Toronto in the standings.

Both teams need this game. Expect a high-scoring and exciting hockey game at Barclays tonight.