The Philadelphia Flyers travel to Toronto to pay a visit to the Maple Leafs. The Leafs are coming off an embarrassing 7-0 loss to the LA Kings, which snapped a three-game winning streak. Lost in the loss is that yes, the Leafs won three games prior to getting buried by the Kings at home. Mike Babcock was none too thrilled about it, making his team practice in the dark in their practice facility after the lights went out. Several Leafs’ players thought practice was over, but Babcock kept them skating. They certainly didn’t deserve time off from the practice ice after that demoralizing display against the Kings.
It was just about as bad as you can get on both ends of the ice. When you don’t score at least 1 goal, and give up 7, there is an effort issue there. Babcock noticed that much and worked them pretty hard in practice the next day. The Leafs are still 5-5-3 so all isn’t lost, they’ve played well in spots. I think next season is going to be the big year for the Maple Leafs. In the sense that they better start playing like a quality team, or else the honeymoon will be long gone with Babcock.
I expect this to pretty much be par for the course with the Leafs this season. They’re a really young team, so they will look good in spots, and awful in others. A finish around the .500 mark will probably be on the agenda for this team. And that isn’t going to resonate with fans too much, but that’s okay, as long as the team shows progress from the dumpster fire of last season. However, the next two years are pivotal for them to put a contender on the ice. They got a free pass last year, and this year, but beyond that things are going to get dicey. Find my pick below, as the Maple Leafs welcome the Philadelphia Flyers to Toronto on Friday night.
This is a rare Friday night contest in Toronto, who typically play on Saturday nights instead of the night before. The Leafs will play a back-to-back, playing the Flyers tonight and then travelling all the way to Pittsburgh for Saturday night. Not the easiest schedule, especially having to play the Pens on the road tomorrow. It appears that Steve Mason will get the call in net for the Flyers, however, nothing has been official. The goaltending situation for the Flyers has been abysmal at best. Mason has a save percentage of 0.88, and then there’s Michal Neurvirth, with a save percentage of 0.859 with an ugly GAA of 3.56. Neurvirth nearly stole the show for the Flyers in the playoffs against the Capitals last year, but he’s been slow out of the gate this season.
The Flyers are ranked 27th in the NHL, allowing an average of 3.57 goals per game. Frederik Andersen will counter Mason in net, presumably, who has made some spectacular efforts this season, but the defence in Toronto is really shaky right now. He isn’t getting any help, however, it’s not like he’s been at his best either. Andersen enters Friday night with a GAA of 3.41, along with a 0.89 save percentage. The Leafs are dead last in the NHL, as they are surrendering 3.62 goals per game. I don’t see any reason why we can’t cash in on another OVER tonight, this time between the Flyers and Leafs at the ACC.
PICK: OVER 5.5 GOALS (-110)