Gameday 58: Look What The Wind Blew In

Yo Yo Yo what’s going on my friends! It’s another hockey night in Pittsburgh as the Penguins welcome the 2014 Stanley Cup Champions 2015 Stanley Cup Champions 2016 Stanley Cup Champions 2017 Stanley Cup Champions 2018 Stanley Cup Champions 2019 Stanley Cup Champions 2020 Toronto Maple Leafs. As is the norm in Toronto, the Maple Leafs entered the season with high expectations. Their fans eagerly awaited a 40-win October, but they forgot they had one of the biggest frauds of a coach behind their bench. After coming to grips and firing Babcock following a 9-10-4 start, the Leafs have responded with a 22-11-4 run under Sheldon Keefe. Turns out, if you let offensively gifted players play they score more goals?

The run over their last 36 games has put Toronto back in the playoff hunt, they enter this game holding down the 3rd and final playoff spot in the Atlantic, though Florida trails them by an even two points with a game in hand while holding the tie-breaker. Thanks to the powerhouse division that the Metro has become, and the run both the Bruins and Lightning have been on ahead of Toronto, it’s either going to be 3rd in the Atlantic or out of the playoffs for Toronto. The third-place Maple Leafs would enter tonight in 7th place in the Metro Division. “This is our year to win the cup!!!!!” The third-place Maple Leafs would enter tonight in 7th place in the Metro Division. “We are playing so much better under Keefe!!!” The third-place Maple Leafs would enter tonight in 7th place in the Metro Division. “We just need a defender!!!” The third-place Maple, Jack Johnson?

Speaking of the standings, the Capitals wrapped up a three-game western swing last night in Vegas that resulted in three losses. The Caps still sit in first place in the Metro, with 79 points in 59 games played. The Penguins trail the Caps by 1 point and have 2 games in hand. A win tonight and the Penguins take over the top of the Metro division. The difference between 1st and 2nd in the division is only a matter of home-ice advantage at this point, as the 3rd-6th place teams are separated by 2 points. Did I mention the third-place Maple Leafs would enter tonight in 7th place in the Metro Division?

Zach Aston-Reese did not finish Sunday’s game against the Redwings but no further information has been released. Assuming ZAR can’t play Hornqvist will bump up to that line and Anthony Angello will sit on the bench with the 4th line. All joking above aside, this game is going to be a serious test for a Penguins defense that is barely keeping its head above water without Dumoulin and Marino. The Maple Leafs have two very good and very fast lines, and Jack Johnson on the first pairing is not a good matchup. The same can be said for the Penguins, however, as their top 6 overpowers the Leafs defense. This game could easily be 7-5 with the power behind these two offenses and the lack of defense.

Sullivan has been alternating goalies since the all-star week, which would put Tristan Jarry in net tonight. Frederick Andersen was held out of Toronto’s Saturday game due to a strained neck, but is still listed on the active roster as of this writing at 5 AM on gameday. The backup, Jack Campbell, has appeared in 4 games this season, is 3-0-1 with a .919 save percentage. Andersen, for completion, is 24-11-6 with a .908.

Tuesday night hockey. The game is on NBCSN. Has anyone else enjoyed NBCSN a lot more this season with the new announcers? I don’t mind Doc in small doses, but there was just something about Doc, Pierre, Roenick and Milbury that was just grating on every level. You actually looked forward to the commercials just to get a break.

Yesterday was a holiday, but what is a holiday without hockey? Tonight is the true holiday for the soul. If you were fortunate enough to have a long weekend you might as well not work today either. If you had to work yesterday then you definitely deserve this game. Get home a little early. Have a good dinner. Watch a future Stanley Cup Champion take on the forever hopeful team from Toronto. The Metro division is up for grabs baby, so get your mind right.