Calgary Flames @ Toronto Maple Leafs, 5 PM MT, Scotiabank Arena, Toronto ON
TV: TVAS, SNW - Radio: Sportsnet 960
Calgary Flames (8-9-1, 17 pts) - Toronto Maple Leafs (14-3-2, 30 pts)
Just when you thought it was safe to peek out from under the bed because Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and the Edmonton Oilers were gone, you now find yourself staring at something even scarier. The Toronto Maple Leafs. The Flames get to start off a five game road trip with a stop for two with the NHL’s best team in Toronto.
The Maple Leafs, to no one’s surprise, are running roughshod over the Scotiabank North Division. They are currently six points ahead of second place Edmonton and let’s face it, the 13 point lead they have on the Flames is insurmountable. The Leafs have the top goal scorer in the league in Auston Matthews (18), they are home to the players with the third and fourth most points in the league (Marner 30, Matthews 29), the league’s #2 PPG scorer (Matthews, 7) and they average a league best 3.79 GPG. Want more? They own an NHL best 21 PPG in 56 PPO and their PK is operating at 80.3%. And we haven’t even touched on their goaltending.
Frederick Andersen and his 11 wins is the benchmark so far this season for NHL goalies. He’s also gone 6-1-1 in his last eight starts and has won his last two that has coincided with a three game winning streak for Toronto. His 411 saves have him tied with Jacob Markstrom for second overall and in his last six victories he hasn’t given up more than three goals. As if that isn’t enough, the Leafs only give up 28.6 shots per game, something the Flames know all to well having 59 shots total in two games against Toronto. Both of which were losses.
As for the Flames? Who knows? There’s lots of talk about toughness and certain players taking the team an putting them on their shoulders. No more than 24 hours after words like that were uttered, the Flames were DESTROYED by the Edmonton Oilers 7-1 Saturday night. And believe it or not, the game was worse than the score indicates. Jacob Markstrom had his doors blown off, surrendering 5 goals on 15 shots before David Rittich took over to help stop the bleeding. Not that it mattered as the Flames were already well on their way to defeat.
I’d expect the Flames to give Jacob Markstrom the start tonight to try and get him back on track, but this is Geoff Ward so who knows what’s going through his mind. I don’t think he knows half the time. David Rittich was “ok” in relief duty, giving up two goals on nine shots, so it’s not like he was a savior that kept Calgary in that game at all. If you’ve pieced those numbers together, Flames goalies gave up 7 goals on 24 shots, good for a .625 Save%. Yes, goalies will have bad nights, but the Flames didn’t need this game to happen when it did and against who it was. Calgary’s season is teetering on the edge as players look lethargic and the coach looks like he’s waiting to get fired. There don’t appear to be many answers to the questions surrounding the Flames and the Maple Leafs won’t be taking it easy on Calgary.
The X Factor in this game could be and should be Matthew Tkachuk. He’s been absent for the past few week after a “players only meeting” where clearly he was told to take it easy. All of this stemmed from his meltdown after the Flames 4-3 loss to Toronto back on January 26th. Jake Muzzin flipped a puck at Tkachuk after the game ended and the Flames resident pest completely melted down. Since then, Matthew Tkachuk has been almost a no show until Saturday night. He spoke of needing to take over the team and get back to doing what he does and for the most part he looked like the old Matthew Tkachuk. What remains to be seen is if he can keep it together tonight and toe that line that he plays so well or will he immediately seek revenge, go after Muzzin and cause chaos that will lead to more division within the team?
Starting Goalies (E=Expected, C=Confirmed)
Flames: Markstrom (E): 8-6-1, 2.87 GAA, .909 SV%
Maple Leafs: Andersen (E): 11-3-2, 2.69 GAA, .905 SV%
Flames: Goals- Gaudreau (9), Points- Gaudreau (17), PIM- Tkachuk (17), Save%- Markstrom (.909)
Maple Leafs: Goals- Matthews (18), Points- Marner (30), PIM: Simmonds (22). Save%- Campbell (.923)
What’s Happening With The Opposition?
Toronto Maple Leafs Coverage: Pension Plan Puppets
Sunday FTB: Should the Leafs be interested in any Predators? https://t.co/PKaG9VbxC3— Pension Plan Puppets (@PPPLeafs) February 21, 2021
Last Time Out
Calgary Flames 1 - Edmonton Oilers 7
Toronto Maple Leafs 5 - Montreal Canadiens 3
Players To Watch
Rasmus Andersson (D): 4 points in last 5 games
Toronto Maple Leafs
Mitch Marner (C): 9 points in last 5 games