The Toronto Maple Leafs came close to staging a pretty impressive comeback, but ultimately came up short by a score of 5-4 on Wednesday against the Blackhawks. The Leafs were down by 5 and scored 4 unanswered to make it a close call. Chicago were sitting back on their heels, as it almost looked like they were killing a penalty for the entire 3rd period.
Frederik Andersen was benched and Garret Sparks played well enough to put the Leafs in that position. It was the second consecutive game that Andersen was sent to the bench after a poor showing. His Vezina odds are quickly tanking and that may have been enough to kill his chances.
Like I said before, my vote is going to Ben Bishop despite not being the favourite. Vasilevskiy appears to be the front-runner at the moment, but the Lightning do not necessarily need him to reach the playoffs. On the other hand, the Stars would not be competing for a playoff spot without Bishop. Robin Lehner is certainly deserving as well.
In any event, Andersen is falling out of favour for others in the final stages of the regular season. This is on the Leafs as a team, too. The effort was awful to start the game and his team failed to help him much. Andersen called out his teammates following the game, which isn’t the first time he’s done that this season. He also did the same in the first-half of the year.
If I recall, the Leafs responded positively to Andersen calling out his teammates, so we’ll see if it works again. They play a full 60 minutes and the Leafs likely beat the Blackhawks easily. Toronto will welcome a Flyers team who are coming off a 5-2 loss to the Capitals last night. Head below for our free Flyers vs. Maple Leafs pick.
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Toronto Maple Leafs Pick
The Flyers went with Carter Hart last night and it didn’t work out well. Hart allowed 4 goals on 31 shots, as he’s been looking like a rookie lately than the confident guy earlier in the season. Having said that, Hart is responsible for lifting this team out of the gutter and getting them in the right direction. They are just fortunate that Brian Elliott came back at the perfect time and got hot.
Elliott is expected to get the starting nod in net Friday night. He’s been solid for the Flyers with a 2.59 GAA and 0.916 save percentage. They will need Elliott to get blazing hot down the stretch, though. Philadelphia are 5 points behind the Blue Jackets for the last wildcard.
It’s just the Canadiens and Jackets between them and the playoffs, which would cap off a crazy run for them in the second-half to get there. The Flyers looked like they were dead in the water before flipping on a switch. In all likelihood, they are going to just miss out, which in turn, buries their chances in the lottery. At least they got their goaltending situation figured out. Their goal scoring has been getting better as well. They’ve averaged 3.6 goals per game in their previous ten games.
Conversely, the Leafs have notched 4 goals per game in their last ten outings. However, as has been evident recently, their defence has ben struggling in the last two games, with 11 goals against. They were fine prior to that, as more than 3 goals were scored on them just once in 15 attempts.
That was the Islanders game in John Tavares’ return to Long Island. I think we see a much better effort from the Leafs tonight against a Flyers team on a back-to-back. They have no excuses for three awful games in a row, especially with what should be a tired Flyers team after chasing around Ovechkin and Kuznetsov a night ago. I’d ride with the Leafs to bounce back at home tonight.