05 Feb Toronto Maple Leafs kick off five straight games at home tonight against Anaheim
By: Spencer Lussier
The Leafs are looking to bounce back in a big way tonight, as they host the Anaheim Ducks for their first and only meeting at the ACC. The Leafs are coming off a deflating 4-1 loss Boston, where Head Coach Mike Babcock was quoted that his team had “no push back”. The Ducks also are coming into this one after an embarrassing 5-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.
Toronto had a bit of a wake-up call against the Boston Bruins in a game that already had implications in the standings. With Boston sitting just three points away, the Leafs were out worked and out played badly by the Bruins in the 4-1 loss. Auston Matthews had probably his least effective game in a Maple Leafs uniform, registering only one shot on net and was a minus-two. Look for him to bounce back and set the tone for the Leafs play tonight. Ryan Kesler may get in the way as his line will likely go head-to-head with Matthews, but I am taking Matthews youth and skill over Kesler’s defensive ability, especially after Matthews last game. Another Leaf who should step up tonight is Frederik Andersen. The former Duck will definitely be inspired to be on his best game against his former mates.
The Ducks are fighting for their playoff lives in a crowded Western Conference. All season they have battled injuries to keep players and seem to have been set for a run after going 6-1-1 in eight games. However, the last two games have resulted in losses to Ottawa and Montreal. Starting goaltender John Gibson went down with an injury after the win against Boston forcing Ryan Miller into action. As his career starts to dwindle down, Miller has become inconsistent. Who knows Miller may spark is younger Buffalo Sabres version being back in the Eastern Conference, but if the last two games are any sign, then Toronto should have fun tonight.
Player to Watch on Anaheim: Rickard Rakell
The player to watch for on Anaheim tonight is Rickard Rakell. The 24-year old is among one of the hottest players in the league at the moment, with eight points in his last six games. When you look at Rakell’s full season you can see he has been Anaheim’s lone offensive weapon, especially with Getzlaf missing most of the season. In 48 games this season Rakell leads the Ducks in points with 41, goals with 19 and powerplay points with 12. With Getzlaf being back in the mix, Rakell has shifted to the wing where he is more comfortable, and playing alongside Getzlaf also helped with his offensive production.
— NHL (@NHL) January 29, 2018
Watchability Scale: 4/10
This game isn’t so convincing for me to get excited about. I said earlier that with both teams coming into this game after bad losses that they will, so we can try to bank on that happening. However, on Saturday the Leafs were boring with their effort and the Ducks are not the most exciting opposing team to tune into anymore. That being said catch up on some sleep from a late Super Bowl Sunday or even put this game on to help you get to bed, because this game won’t be competitive or it will be a boring, sloppy low scoring game. 4/10 on the scale.
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Spencer Lussier is a second-year student at the College of Sports Media. Follow him