14 Mar Toronto Maple Leafs in search of second straight win taking on desperate Dallas Stars
By: Spencer Lussier
After a controversial 5-2 win against the Penguins on Saturday night, the Maple Leafs are fresh off snapping a four-game slide as they take on the Dallas Stars. Toronto is well rested heading into tonight’s game after three days off, while the Stars lost to the Habs 4-2 last night and travelled to Toronto overnight.
Auston Matthews is once again out of the lineup for tonight’s contest, his seventh straight and seventeenth this campaign and will most likely need another week to recover. Matthews was seen wearing the no-contact red jersey at practice, but seems to be skating with the team so that he is conditioned once his shoulder is ready. We have seen a couple of Leafs step up in Matthews absence, most recently Nazem Kadri who had two goals on Saturday. Kadri also scored twice in Toronto’s last meeting with Dallas, in a 4-1 win, and will once again need to be an important part tonight with Dallas stacking their best forwards on their first line, which means Kadri’s line will be tested defensively. One Leaf who has been quiet is William Nylander. Willy has just four assists in the seven games Matthews has been out, and with Kadri doing the defensive work, the Leafs wouldn’t mind seeing the “Willy Show” for a big offensive outing tonight. Andreas Johnsson will make his NHL debut for the Leafs tonight. He was seen on the fourth line and even taking some reps on the second powerplay unit. Johnsson won the SHL Rookie of the Year in 2014 and scored 20 goals last season in his first in season in North America. He has made significant strides in his sophomore year with the Marlies, leading the club with 54 points (26 goals, 28 assists) in 54 games which is good for fourth in AHL scoring.
Dallas will be a desperate team tonight after losing to a non-playoff team in Montreal. With 82 points the Stars are holding onto their playoff lives sitting in the second wild card spot entering tonight’s game, and with 12 games remaining the schedule isn’t doing them any favours with 10 of their remaining 12 games are against playoff teams. Dallas arrives in Toronto losers of two straight and a 14-16-3 road record, and history is not on the Stars side either. Toronto has won the past five meetings at the ACC and Dallas has just two wins in their last ten overall against the Leafs. Another factor that is not in favour of the Stars is the fact the Leafs have played just four games in the last two weeks compared to the Stars fatigued legs from last night.
Player to watch on Dallas: Tyler Seguin
Tyler Seguin is the player to watch on Dallas tonight. Seguin who could have been a Maple Leaf as the Boston Bruins chose him with the second pick in 2010 with the selection acquired from Toronto in the Phil Kessel trade. Seguin has 65 points in 70 games this season which leads the Stars in scoring. Seguin a native of Brampton, Ontario loves returning home to take on his childhood team as Seguin has 10 even strength goals, the most against any one team.
Watchability Scale: 7/10
Leaf fans are tuning into this game. Considering the last game was Saturday, not only are the players chomping at the bit to get back on the ice, but fans also want to see the Leafs back in action. With that being said it should still be a good game to watch tonight. Their only other meeting this season, the Leafs arguably played their best game of the season en route to a 4-1 win. The Stars should be fatigued a bit playing in the second game of a back-to-back, which should make the Leafs look that much better. 7/10 on the scale.