KEEP IT GOING (PRE-GAME OPINIONS)


These match-ups against Western Conference teams are always exciting to watch. And the opponent that the Leafs will be facing next are on a mission: score more goals. The Avs did score a bit earlier today, but the Leafs should fear their hunger to find the twine. Are the Buds ready?

Background Info

Prior to today's win over Boston, Colorado had not scored a goal in its first two games. Then, as mentioned before, they scored two including one (as seen above) scored in the dying seconds. We know that they want more goals as two isn't enough.

The Leafs are fresh off a big 6-3 win over the Rangers on Sunday, but were previously handled by the Penguins two nights earlier. The goal for the Leafs tonight is to get the crowd on their side, as they have yet to win on home ice in three games.

Also, with Gardiner being scratched from the lineup in yesterday's matchup, the set up for this game may be tough as Percy is making a strong case for himself to stay on the team as proven  by this:

Elias says Percy is first rookie d man in Leaf history to get points in three straight games to start a season.
This should make for an interesting lineup tomorrow night. Here's what I think it will be.

Projected Lineups

Forwards

JVR-Bozak-Kessel
Lupul-Kadri-Kozun
Komarov-Santorelli-Clarkson
Winnik-Holland-*Panik

Defense

Phaneuf-Robidas
Gardiner-Franson
Rielly-Polak
Percy

Goalies

Bernier
Reimer

Scratches

Ashton, Frattin, *Panik, Booth (injured)

*Maybe

3 Keys to Victory

1) Be prepared to counter attack the hungry Avs offense. Not trying to sound like a broken record, but the Avs really want to score more goals. It's that simple, and the Leafs need to counter attack that by playing solid defensive hockey. They showed signs of that in yesterday's match-up and looked like the better team all night long. Another strong effort should help build confidence, especially being ready to play from the opening draw.

2) Take as many shots as possible. What do the Avalanche and the Leafs have in common? They both give up a ton of shots due to young defensemen. While yes, the Leafs are not the strongest defensively, they have to exploit the other team with their strong offensive players. More beneficial, they are playing against Varlamov (last years Vezina winner) who lost twice and gave up 8 goals. Like I said, take advantage of that and they should be fine score-sheet wise.

3) Get the home crowd on your side. The last two home games have not gone as expected. The Leafs lost a tight game on opening night to their arch-rival the Habs; and lost in a bad showing against Pittsburgh which ended with a jersey tossed onto the ice. Obviously, getting a win at home would be great, but having the fans in the Leafs favour would greatly benefit them even more. Sure, the off ice entertainment was designed to get fans into the game, but at the end of the day, it's the players that get the crowd into it. A good start should help. Or a win. Either works.

Predictions

Their will be a high flying start out of the gate for both teams, but things will cool down by the second period. It will be a 3-1 contest, with Phaneuf registering his first goal of the season as well.

#TMLIMO


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