The Toronto Maple Leafs welcome the Vancouver Canucks to Scotiabank Arena on Saturday night. The Leafs are coming off a 4-3 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday afternoon. It was a weird start time at 2:00 in the afternoon and the Wild were ready to play. They went to Toronto with their eyes set on beating the talented Maple Leafs. It was a big win for the Wild, while it was a missed chance for the Leafs to stay within striking distance of the Lightning.
Tampa just keeps on rolling and it’s getting a little tough for anyone to keep up with them. With Frederik Andersen and backup Garret Sparks battling injuries, it just got a whole lot more difficult for the Leafs. Andersen recently just got back to practice, but is taking his groin injury slowly. A long-term injury to Andersen could cripple their season. Along with Andersen, Sparks has been hobbled with a concussion.
That has left the Leafs scrambling for help in net. They quietly initiated a trade to obtain Michael Hutchinson from the Florida Panthers. Hutchinson was sitting behind Roberto Luongo and James Reimer on the depth chart, so he was sent to the Leafs who were in desperate need of an additional goaltender. If they didn’t get rid of Curtis McElhinney they’re probably not in this predicament. But I said months ago that this scenario may end up coming back to hurt them and here we are.
I am sure the Leafs searched for different options, but Hutchison is the best they could come up with. The Panthers were in desperation mode themselves when Hutchison is all they had when Luongo and Reimer were out. Don’t expect much from him, but the Leafs have to expect something from their offence. Their offence might be able to make up for the goaltending loss, though not long-term without Andersen in net. The Canucks are likely glad to see Hutchison instead of Andersen in net this evening. Vancouver are wrapping up a six-game road trip tonight. They can four of six with a win over the Leafs. Head below for our free Canucks vs. Maple Leafs pick.
Vancouver Canucks vs. Toronto Maple Leafs Pick
Hutchison will step into the crease Saturday with a 4.19 GAA and 0.851 save percentage. That isn’t good by any measure, but we’ll see if he can improve any with the Leafs. His first shot didn’t go so well, as he gave up 3 goals on 34 shots. I suppose considering his numbers, that’s a small improvement for him. He inherits at team that have allowed an average of 2.83 goals per game in 2018-19.
It’s not even close to what people expected. After they signed John Tavares instead of a defencemen, the narrative was that it was doomsday on the blue line for the Leafs. They’ve been playing well, but they need a capable goaltender in net to help out. Andersen holds a 2.50 GAA and Hutchison has a 4.19 GAA, so it doesn’t take a hockey expert to tell you there is a considerable drop there.
The Canucks are coming off a 2-0 loss to the Canadiens, so some offence would be nice against the Leafs tonight. They’re going to have to score, because I think the Leafs are going to turn the offensive production up tonight. They are well aware that they cannot depend on Hutchison to put a wall and save them here.
Expect the Leafs to be on the offensive early and often on Saturday. They have recorded 3.8 goals per game in their last ten and 2nd in the league overall with an average of 3.67 goals per game. Hutchison could be a liability, though, which doesn’t get me too excited about backing Toronto here. As long as Hutchison is in net, I’m going to look at the OVER here and in the future.