Murray, Zohorna, O’Reilly & Nylander

Tonight’s sport between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Ottawa Senators is a gathering between two groups with completely different goals. The Maple Leafs have already secured their playoff spot and at the moment are centered on gaining home-ice benefit. On the opposite hand, the Senators are nonetheless preventing for a wild-card spot. They have to win as many video games as attainable to remain within the race.

All season lengthy, whereas the Maple Leafs have been enjoying nicely, they’ve lacked the killer intuition. Instead, they’ve allowed groups to hold round. Sometimes it prices them. Will they put the Senators away tonight?

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The Maple Leafs need to enhance on that facet of their sport. Securing home-ice benefit is essential within the playoffs, and the group will likely be trying to bounce again from their current loss to the Florida Panthers and beat what is going to doubtless be a determined Senators group. That must be a problem.

Item One: The Maple Leafs’ Home and Away Goalie Statistics Make for an Interesting Decision

As the season has performed out, one intriguing facet has been the Maple Leafs’ goalie scenario. Ilya Samsonov has been nearly unbeatable at dwelling, and mediocre on the highway. While Matt Murray’s file at dwelling has been good, his numbers have been so-so at dwelling. They’ve been significantly better on the highway. 

Related: Dubas “Sow’s-Ear” Goalies Have Become Maple Leafs Silk Purse

Looking on the particular numbers, Samsonov’s record is a fantastic 18-2-3 at home, with a 2.00 goals-against common (GAA) and a .927 save share (SV%). On the highway, he’s really put up a shedding file of 6-7-1, with a 3.23 GAA and a .892 SV%. By distinction, Murray is 9-6-1 on the highway, however with significantly better stats (a 2.75 GAA and a .915 SV%). In dwelling video games, his file is 5-2-1, however his SV% is just .880 and his GAA is 3.37.

How may that influence any selections made about goalie deployment? Will coach Sheldon Keefe take into account his goalies’ home-and-away variations as he makes playoff selections? It would appear that such a stark distinction in efficiency between the 2 goalies in several venues is likely to be a deal. 

Matt Murray, Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Coach Keefe has usually famous that the playoffs are a distinct beast altogether, and each goalies should be able to play anyplace. In a current interview, Keefe addressed that query particularly.

He noted, “There are two extremes on both sides for both goalies, something that we’re looking at for sure. I don’t know how applicable it might be beyond the regular season. You get into the playoffs, everything equalizes in terms of scheduling and both teams are going through the same thing.”

Related: Devils’ 2012 Stanley Cup Final Team: Where are They Now?

Keefe added that, “It’s certainly something that has my attention. Not a lot of games left, but for Sammy, we need him to play on the road and get more reps in there. And then Murray the other way. I think you’ll see some of that the rest of the season.”

Item Two: With Noel Acciari Out, Will Radim Zohorna Replace Him?

In an replace on the Maple Leafs’ roster strikes, Noel Acciari is out with a neck damage and received’t have the ability to play tonight. However, he’s thought-about day-to-day for subsequent week. He’s been a strong bodily presence for the Maple Leafs this season, and the group will miss his vitality on the ice.

Noel Acciari Toronto Maple Leafs
Noel Acciari, Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The group has introduced up Radim Zohorna from its American Hockey League (AHL) Toronto Marlies’ affiliate to fill the hole. Zohorna was acquired from the Calgary Flames on the commerce deadline. Today’s line mixtures present him as the additional fourth-line ahead ought to the group deploy an 11-forward and seven-defenseman lineup. 

Item Three: Ryan O’Reilly Practicing In Non-Contract Jersey

To replace Ryan O’Reilly’s damage standing, he’s practising in a non-contact jersey. The phrase is that he’s hoping to play subsequent week and get some sport motion earlier than the playoffs start. 

Related: Maple Leafs Have Many Problems, But One Simple Solution

Since O’Reilly got here to the group from the St. Louis Blues, he’s been a productive addition. There’s little doubt the Maple Leafs will likely be desirous to have him again within the lineup for the playoffs (and hopefully nicely earlier than). 

Item Four: William Nylander Seems Unlucky Rather than Bad

Despite a current dip in play, William Nylander has had a profitable season. He’s set a brand new profession excessive in targets at 36. Although Auston Matthews has overtaken him because the group’s objective chief, Nylander has been certainly one of Toronto’s greatest playoff gamers. He’s additionally been rising as a pacesetter over the previous couple of seasons. 

Coach Sheldon Keefe is clearly a Nylander supporter. Only as soon as this season in my reminiscence has he proven his fallback Nylander-tough-love tactic. From my perspective, that’s a superb factor given Nylander’s rising self-awareness and understanding of what he must do to succeed. 

William Nylander Toronto Maple Leafs
William Nylander, Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Nylander had a poor sport simply two weeks in the past, however he’s rebounded with a robust stretch of video games. From what I’ve seen, the younger Swede continues to hold the offense and make actually good passes to teammates. I think about that he’s been pissed off together with his scoring; however, to my eyes, he hasn’t let it influence his play. He may use a fortunate rating.

What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?

It would appear that the Maple Leafs have a fairly safe lock on home-ice benefit for the playoffs, but it surely isn’t a executed deal but. I might suppose that the group will wish to push laborious to achieve that benefit simply due to the group help (and there’s that pragmatic benefit of getting the final change). 

Related: Maple Leafs’ O’Reilly Will Provide Big Versatility Boost in Playoffs

However, final season’s playoffs counsel that home-ice benefit doesn’t carry any assure of postseason success. Still, I might consider it needs to be motivational for the group to present its greatest effort. I can see the group pushing laborious tonight and over the rest of the common season video games to safe it.

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