Game Preview: Nashville Predators @ Toronto Maple Leafs 11/16/21
The Preds are back on the road.
The Nashville Predators are back on the road tonight, looking to extend a hot last few weeks of play with this visit to Toronto.
The Nashville Predators
For a refreshing change, Matt Duchene and Mikael Granlund are tied with Roman Josi for the team points lead with 16, with Duchene’s nine goals leading the team easily and Ryan Johansen and Tanner Jeannot rounding out the top five scorers. Juuse Saros seems to have shaken off his annual slow start. We’ve had intervals of hope before over the last few seasons that didn’t pan out, but I’m ready to enjoy the ride.
The Preds are still missing Filip Forsberg, Alexandre Carrier, and Nick Cousins to injury, so the rest of the team will have to continue stepping up.
The Toronto Maple Leafs
In news that will surprise nobody, the Toronto Maple Leafs are getting most of their offense from their best and highest-paid players. John Tavares and William Nylander have a team-leading 15 points each, while Mitch Marner is right behind with 14 (and a team-leading 11 assists). Auston Matthews has 12 points, and Alex Kerfoot and Morgan Reilly are also up there in successful production.
Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren have been quietly effective defenders, not racking up the points (and in Liljegren’s case only playing in ten games so far this season) but leading the team in xG share at 5v5 (65% and 64% respectively). Matthews, Nylander, and their linemate Michael Bunting also have xG shares north of 60%. The team as a whole has controlled the puck well, with only two regulars underwater in xG%.
Jack Campbell has been great in goal behind an okay defensive performance, with a sv% for the season so far of .939. The Leafs have tried three other goalies so far as backups and haven’t managed to get a performance over .900 out of any of them—or, for that matter, over .860 out of any of them except Petr Mrazek, who’s currently injured. The Preds should expect to see Campbell tonight.
The Leafs have been playing high-event hockey again, giving up a little to get a lot, though they’ve been unlucky at finishing their chances so far; the Preds will want to work to slow the game down tonight. They’ll also want to keep the game at 5v5, as the Maple Leafs have a strong power play and a strong penalty kill (when both have seen use, which hasn’t been often).
How to Watch
The game starts at 6PM Central and will air on Bally Sports South and 102.5 The Game.
Statistics from naturalstattrick.com. Additional background from hockeyviz.com.