Calgary Flames at Toronto Maple Leafs
Air Canada Centre
Both Calgary and Toronto come into this affair in need of a win. The Maple Leafs are coming in off of a disappointing shootout loss to Ottawa, while Calgary was blown out by Edmonton. Last time the teams played, on November 30, Jhonas Enroth was still a Maple Leaf and allowed two goals in the first minute. Needless to say, it’s been a couple months since that happened and the teams find themselves in very different situations today.
Toronto Maple Leafs Look to Bounce Back versus Faltering Calgary Flames
As a result, the goalies are vital in this game. Chad Johnson has been a saviour for the Flames, with a .917 save perentage and a 2.41 goals against average. He also had a 39 save shutout in the first game against the Leafs. However, it’s Brian Elliott getting the start. Elliott has had a rough season, but with a back-to-back against Toronto and Montreal, Elliott will be getting the start against the Leafs. Acquired in the offseason to be the starter, Elliott has had a disappointing .893 save percentage and a 2.87 goals against average. Elliott came in relief of Johnson against Edmonton on Saturday night. The Flames lost the game 7-3, with both goaltenders allowing at least three goals (Johnson three on four, Elliott three on 26). The 31-year old pending free agent needs to start getting results soon if he wants to stay in Calgary.
At the other end of the rink, Frederik Andersen will be very important for Toronto. Enroth’s bad start cost the Leafs the game. Andersen needs to keep the Leafs in it early. With a .918 save percentage and a 2.69 goals against average, he has very similar numbers to Johnson. He has been solid in the two games without Morgan Rielly, making 40 saves on Thursday and 25 on Saturday. With Elliott in goal for Calgary, the Leafs have the advantage in goal.
William Nylander was one of the stand out players in the first meeting for the Maple Leafs. He was one of the few players who wasn’t a minus in the 3-0 loss, and also had four shots on goal. Nylander was one of the leading forwards in time on-ice as well, with 19:30. He hasn’t received more than 16 minutes in a game since January 3 against the Washington Capitals (20:03). Expect a big game from the Swede, who has been held pointless in the Leafs last two games.
The Flames come into Toronto needing a good performance. They are 4-5-1 in January, having lost two straight against Nashville (3-4) and Edmonton (3-7). The offence for Calgary has been sub par all season. They have scored four or more goals just twice this month, in ten games. In comparison, the Leafs have done it six times in nine games. The Flames are playing an ailing Leafs defence as well. Martin Marincin is just back from injury and looked rusty on Saturday. Morgan Rielly is still out as of the writing of this article. With games against Montreal and Ottawa the rest of this week, Calgary needs a good offensive performance at the Air Canada Centre on Monday night to get the Atlantic road trip off on the right foot.
The Leafs have been one of, if not the best, first period teams in the NHL. However, they have hit a bit of a dry spell. On Thursday versus the Rangers and Saturday against the Senators, Toronto was slow out of the gate. The team looked out of sorts, giving up plenty of shots and falling behind. Both games occurred without Morgan Rielly, whose absence has been very noticeable. The defence was awful against the Rangers, giving up 44 shots. With Martin Marincin back in the lineup on Saturday night, the Leafs looked better. They started out slow again, but eventually settled in, only allowing 27 shots. Calgary has allowed 11 goals in the past two games, giving Toronto a chance to reignite their first period success before heading out on a six game road trip.
MONTREAL, QC – OCTOBER 29: Frederik Andersen #31 of the Toronto Maple Leafs gloves the puck during the NHL game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on October 29, 2016 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)