Toronto Maple Leafs Vs. Nashville Predators: Game day

October 10th, 2013 No Comments

1aleafAfter starting the season 3-0 and scoring 12 goals in the process, the Toronto Maple Leafs will look to get back on track as they get set to face the Nashville Predators Thursday night in Nashville.

Held to just one goal on 28 shots against the Colorado Avalanche Tuesday night, the Maple Leafs will be looking to unload against the always tough to beat Pekka Rinne, who is expected to get the start between the pipes for Nashville.

Toronto should counter with Jonathan Bernier, who, despite the loss on Tuesday night, was excellent against the Avalanche.

The Predators enter the game with a 1-2 record, while the Maple Leafs sit at 3-1. Both teams have excellent goaltending, both teams have question marks on defense. Rookie defenseman Seth Jones has been holding his own with one assist and a plus+1 rating through three games, while veteran defenseman Shea Weber has struggled with zero points and a minus-2 rating thus far.

Mike Fisher leads the Preds in scoring with one goal and three points, while Toronto counters with Joffrey Lupul (5 points), Mason Raymond (4 points) and David Bolland, Nazem Kadri and Phil Kessel, who have three points apiece.

David Clarkson (suspension) will remain out of the Leaf lineup, as will Nikolai Kulemin (ankle). Defenseman Mark Fraser (kidney) and forward Fraser McLaren (finger) continue to be listed on the IR. Meanwhile, Lupul is questionable with a sore knee after a dangerous knee-on-knee hit Tuesday night.

Nashville will be without forward Nick Spalling (upper body) and defenseman Roman Josi (concussion). Former Toronto Maple Leaf Viktor Stalberg remains out with a shoulder injury.

While Nashville may have a slight edge in the goaltending department, Toronto has far more depth up front and hold a strong edge in special teams. To date, Toronto’s power play in humming along at 23.5 percent (Nashville’s sits at 18.2 percent), while Toronto’s penalty kill is amongst the leagues best at 93.3 percent (Nashville’s sits at an alarming 69.2 percent).

Nashville’s strength starts with their ability to win faceoffs (54.7 percent, compared to Toronto’s 48.5 percent), which suggests they will attempt to use a puck possession game to defeat the Maple Leafs.

Fearless Prediction: Look for Toronto to use their considerable forward depth to their advantage against the undermanned Predators squad. In order for the Preds to be successful they will have to stay out of the box and find a way to beat Bernier— who comes into the game with a 1.18 goals against average and a 0.963 save percentage. Taking advantage of their power play opportunities, Toronto should emerge with the “W” tonight. Take the Maple Leafs 3-1 over the Preds.

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