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Sharks look to Start Winning Streak In Toronto

Breaking Down The Toronto Maple Leafs

Record: 10-13-6, 26 Points, 8th in the Atlantic Division
Current Streak: Lost 1 in OT
Last 10 Games: 4-4-2
Power Play: 18.7% (14th.)
Penalty Kill: 80% (19th)
Goal Differential: -13

The Toronto Maple Leafs are in the slow process of undoing years of bad management that lead to bad contracts and poor drafting and development. Much like the Edmonton Oilers did the Leafs cleaned house over the summer replacing their general manager, coaching staff in the NHL and AHL as well as most of their scouting department. It’s really hard to pick a front office move not to like as the Leafs have put together a powerful brain trust of smart hockey people. While the moves have not translated to wins yet, it appears that going forward as they continue to shed some of their more awful contracts that they should within the next couple of years especially when they start to get reinforcements from the development system like William Nylander and Mitch Marner.

Things are not all bad for the Leafs though. There is a lot on this team to like, including Morgan Rielly who should be the cornerstone of the Leafs defence corps for many years to come. Also on the blue line I don’t think we have seen all there is to see from Jake Gardiner either. Nazim Kadri is on a one year “show me” deal where he must prove that he is in the leafs plans going forward.

In goal the Leafs have been hit by not only the injury bug which has seen James Reimer miss some action. It has also a rough season so far for Jonathan Bernier who has not won a single game this year going 0-8-2 with a 3.45 GAA and a .881 SV% on top of injuries. To try and gain him some confidence back the Leafs sent him to the AHL Toronto Marlies where he recorded 3 straight shutouts before surrendering 5 goals on 26 shots against the Utica Comets. Starting in goal tonight for the Leafs will be rookie backstop Garret Sparks who will be starting just his fifth NHL game. Sparks has a record of 3-2-0 with a 2.21 GAA and a .921 SV%

Leafs Projected Line Up

Matthias – Kadri – Komarov
Van Reimsdyk – Bozak – Lupul
Grabner – Holland – Winnik
Spaling – Froese – Boyes

Gardiner – Phaneuf
Hunwick – Rielly
Corrado – Polak

Sparks
Bernier

Breaking Down The San Jose Sharks

Record: 15-14-1, 31 Points, 2nd in the Pacific Division.
Current Streak: Won 1
Last 10 Games: 3-6-1
Power Play: 17.7% (21st)
Penalty Kill: 81.9% (12th)
Goal Differential: -1

The San Jose Sharks have made some interesting line up decision, some have paid off and others have not been so fruitful. This experiment will continue tonight in Toronto as the Sharks will keep together their top line of Dainius Zubrus, Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski from last game and place the returning Tomas Hertl as the center of the fourth line. Personally I don’t see a way that these lines won’t get mixed up during the game. While I do like the game that Zubrus played on the first line last game, no one should expect this to be a long term solution for the Sharks constancy woes. Also I just can’t see Peter DeBoer leaving Hertl on the fourth line as his game has been significantly better than fellow center-men Chris Tierney.

In another interesting move the Sharks have opted to play Martin Jones tonight, the first of back to back games. Personally I’d have thrown Alex Stalock out tonight and used Jones in Ottawa but this also raises the interesting possibility of Jones playing both games. With the Sharks holding a slim one point lead to remain in second place in the division and in a playoff spot, the Sharks need every point they can get. Injuries should slow down some of the teams chasing them as the Arizona Coyotes  (30 Points) will be without Mike Smith for 8 to 10 weeks and the Calgary Flames (30 Points) just lost Michael Frolik as well. The Vancouver Canucks (30 Points) are having a hard time maintaining traction as they have a 3-5-2 record in their last ten games. However the Edmonton Oilers (30 Points) seem to be doing just fine without Connor McDavid who should return soon so the Sharks cannot rest on their laurels.

Ben Smith who was recalled from a conditioning stint is not playing tonight however after an early scare Justin Braun will be in the lineup tonight and as previously mentioned Hertl will rejoin the team. The Dylan DeMelo experiment continues as he will line up beside Brenden Dillon to try and secure that sixth slot on the blue line going forward.

Sharks Projected Lines

Zubrus – Thornton – Pavelski
Karlsson – Marleau – Ward
Donskoi – Teirney – Wingels
Brown – Hertl – Nieto

Vlasic – Braun
Martin – Burns
Dillon – DeMelo

Jones
Stalock

Don’t forget after the game to check out Pucknology After Dark right here on Pucknology or on YouTube. Also stay tuned for the release of this weeks Teal Tinted Glasses Podcast.

About Ian Reid

Ian is the Director of Content for Pucknology. He is a lifelong Sharks fan based in Canada. In three short years Ian has come a long way starting from his own blogspot and going on to write for RSENReport.com, Last Word on Hockey before settling in at Pucknology. You can also find Ian's work as a contributor at FearTheFin.com. On the podcast side of things he was a co-host of the now defunct Teal Tinted Glasses podcast as well as a regular on Pucknology After Dark and host of the Pucknology Writers Room.

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