OTTAWA, ON - JANUARY 28: (L-R) Evgeni Malkin #71 of the Pittsburgh Penguins and team Chara kneels on the ice with Kris Letang #58 of the Pittsburgh Penguins and team Alfredsson during the 2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Skills Competition at Scotiabank Place on January 28, 2012 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Toronto Maple Leafs 25-19-5 (55 points, currently 9th in the East)
151 goals for, 147 goals against
Last 10 games: 6-4-0
Pens' record vs. TOR in Season Series: 0-1-0 (Toronto won 4-3 on Oct 29th)
Leading Scorer: Joffrey Lupul 52 points in 49 games (20 goals, 32 assists), 40 PIMs, +3
--It's been a breakout year for All-star alternate captain Lupul, who's become a point per game player and found wonderful chemistry with Phil Kessel (who has 26 goals and 51 points).
Unsung Stud: Clarke MacArthur - 42 gp, 24p (14g + 10a) 20 PIMs, +2
-- Hard to find anyone in a market like Toronto that's "unsung" with all the attention they get, but MacArthur tends to be a guy that kills the Penguins. C-Mac has 15 points (5 goals, 10 assists) in 18 career games when he plays against Pittsburgh. That's the most points he's compiled than any other NHL team.
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The Good: 6th in the league with 3.02 goals/game so far, Toronto is not lacking in any offense this season. The main engines have been Kessel and Lupul but they also have nine players with 7 goals or more (compared to Pittsburgh who only currently has seven such players with 7+ goals), so it's been a diverse contribution from the lineup. The Maple Leafs are also 5th in the league with PP effeciency (19.6%) so they have made the most of their chances.
The Bad: As good as some of the offensive metrics are, the defensive metrics are as bad. Toronto's 30th in the league in PK % with 75.0%- and there are only 30 teams in the league. Their 2.96 goals allowed/game ranks 26th. Also after a fast start, the Leafs are 7-6-1 after the Christmas break and have slid down the conference standings.
Old Friends: Colby Armstrong 9 gp, 0g, 1a, 4 PIMs, -4
-Frustrating year for Army, he missed the first 23 game of the season with an ankle sprain and then just nine games into his season he broke his foot and worse suffered a concussion and has been out since December 17th. Best wishes to Colby to recover and return soon.
Fight Watch: Mike Brown, Luke Schenn.....Deryk Engelland, Craig Adams
-The once truculent Leafs are now tied for 23rd in the league in fights with just 15 on the year (compare to 50, 57 and 52 in the previous three season). Brian Burke tearfully even waived his enforcer Colton Orr and decried the current state of the NHL. So unless there's a big hit or tempers boil over, don't look much fisticuffs tonight.
Hidden Stat: Toronto is 16-8-1 when they score the first goal, 9-11-4 when they allow the first goal. And when they lead after two periods, the Leafs are a perfect 18-0-0 on the season.
PensBurgh 3 Keys:
1 - Tame The Monster- Jonas Gustavsson has taken the ball (puck?) and ran with it lately for Toronto, but in four career appearanced in Pittsburgh he's got a 3.76 GAA and .882 save percentage to go along with a 2-2-0 record. If the Pens can keep those numbers high, they'll have a good shot.
2- Win the Special Teams battle - As evidenced by high goals for and goals against, and a high-ranked PP and low-ranked PK, Toronto is no stranger to seeing the red light go on in both directions. If the Penguins have a 0 for 5 or 1 for 6 power play night, they probably aren't going to get the win. Pittsburgh needs to make Toronto pay if they take take penalties, simple as that.
3- Who left their legs on the beach? - It's the first game back from the all-star break and a lot of the guys on both sides caught some sun and well deserved R&R in the past week. Which team can find their legs first and get back in the swing of the grind of an NHL regular season? Vacation's over and it's time to go back to work in the push to the playoffs.