The Philadelphia Flyers enter the back half of a back-to-back situation on Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center. They will have a well-known commodity in town for the matchup, as the Toronto Maple Leafs will be back out on the ice since a 4-3 loss against the Capitals in overtime on Tuesday. Their legs should feel fresh after having three days off to prepare for the Flyers.
The defence couldn’t hold for the Leafs against the high-powered Maple Leafs on Tuesday night. Alexander Ovechkin sent an absolutely blast on the power-play in overtime to send Leafs’ fans home upset. Allowing Ovechkin to have that lane above the circle is asking for trouble and that’s what the Leafs’ defence did.
Lapses defensively have been commonplace for the Leafs over the last several years. Even before Mike Babcock got to Toronto, the Leafs were doing a good job of blowing games defensively. A trip down memory lane to 2013 and you will find the Leafs blowing a 4-1 lead against the Bruins in the third period of Game 7.
Since Babcock has arrived to coach the Leafs, have there been major changes in that regard? We’re still talking about the same issues far too often, so it’s more of the same in Toronto. The goals are going to come with this group of playmakers, but leaving Frederik Andersen out to save the day defensively isn’t working.
Andersen has done his best to do that, but it’s asking a lot of him to stand on his head every night. The Flyers erased a 3-2 deficit in the third period to win in a shootout last night in Newark. Sean Couturier executed the “Forsberg” move in the shootout to fool Devils’ netminder MacKenzie Blackwood. The goal provided the Flyers with a record of 6-5-1 heading into Saturday against the Leafs. Head below for the rest of our writeup and Maple Leafs vs. Flyers pick.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Philadelphia Flyers Pick
It was more of the same for the Maple Leafs against the Capitals, and the answers to the media sounded the same again. Leafs’ fans are calling for the head of Mike Babcock, as they want him gone as soon as possible. If the Leafs were on a path that was leading them outside of the playoffs, the move might be considered. However, Kyle Dubas and Brandon Shanahan aren’t going to do anything because fans want Babcock shown the door. A Babcock coached team hasn’t won a playoff series since 2013, so that’s going to be step 1 in keeping his job.
The Tyson Barrie trade appears like a miss so far for the Leafs. They sent a well liked player in Nazem Kadri to Denver for Barrie and the results haven’t been there for Barrie thus far. The defence is still the terrible defence we’ve come to know in Toronto. Note that the Leafs will be short-handed defensively tonight with Jake Muzzin absent.
Muzzin was seen practicing with a red jersey on this week to indicate an injury, but he’s apparently missing tonight because of personal reasons. Morgan Rielly has been dealing with an injury and been missing practices recently, so he won’t be at 100% tonight, nor was he completely healthy against the Caps. Not good news for a team who are allowing 3.43 goals against per game.
The Flyers’ offence has been on fire at Wells Fargo Center this season. They have recorded an average of 4.4 goals per game at home, though the defence has been iffy with 3.86 goals against per contest. Toronto have pummeled the Flyers in their zone in the past.
In their most recent meetings, The Leafs have scored 17 goals in the previous three outings. That said, Philadelphia netted 11 goals in their last two meetings, having scored 6 in a 7-6 loss and 5 in a 5-4 win. The NHL offices must be loving all of these high-scoring games this season, and they will likely enjoy another entertaining matchup in Philadelphia tonight.