Maple Leafs vs. Flyers: Goaltenders Crucial in Eastern Conference Showdown

Sam Stryker@sbstrykerContributor IIIFebruary 25, 2013

Toronto goalie Ben Scrivens has two shutouts in his last six starts.
Toronto goalie Ben Scrivens has two shutouts in his last six starts.Abelimages/Getty Images

It may be early in the season, but Monday night’s showdown between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Philadelphia Flyers has big implications. The Maple Leafs sit at seventh in the Eastern Conference with 22 points and the Flyers are not far behind in ninth with 19 points. 

When Toronto and Philadelphia square off tonight in the Wells Fargo Center, the teams' respective goaltenders will play a particularly significant role in who steps off the ice with the victory and who goes home disappointed. 

In net for the Maple Leafs is the scorching-hot Ben Scrivens, who has made six straight starts. The sophomore netminder took the starting duties from goalie James Reimer, who remains out after suffering an MCL injury Feb. 11, according to Stats LLC.

During that six-game stretch, Scrivens has two shutouts and a 1.92 goals-against average. The 26-year-old goalie has a .929 save percentage and a 2.19 GAA on the season and is a large reason why Toronto ranks seventh in the league in goals-against per game.

If Scrivens can continue his hot play, look for Toronto to escape Philadelphia with a victory.

But Philadelphia goalie Ilya Bryzgalov will look to extend the Maple Leafs’ road woes. Toronto has lost three of its last four on the road, and Bryzgalov can go a long way in pushing Philadelphia to victory.

Bryzgalov was pulled in the teams’ last meeting after allowing four goals on 14 shots, but looked sharp in his last outing against the Winnipeg Jets. He stopped 34 shots in leading Philadelphia to the victory.

Bryzgalov may be third in the NHL with wins with nine, but his numbers are relatively pedestrian. He has a 2.77 GAA and .902 save percentage on the season—not bad, but not impressive either.

That being said, the Flyers are a team built around their offense. The team ranks eighth in the NHL in goals per game and ninth in power-play percentage, converting on the man-advantage 82.4 percent of the time. 

Bryzgalov also plays well at home, putting up a .913 save percentage and a 2.50 GAA. The Flyers' netminder doesn’t necessarily have to steal the game for his team, he just can’t choke it away like he did last time around against the Maple Leafs.

If Bryzgalov can hold his own against Toronto tonight, the Philadelphia offense should be able to do the rest against the visiting squad.

All stats via ESPN.