Penguins-Maple Leafs: Tyler's Weekly Hockey Night In Canada Preview

Tyler HillAnalyst IDecember 20, 2008

I don’t know how but we did it. We got through a whole Saturday night without being able to watch a Leafs game. It was hard and it challenged our man hood, but in the end we pulled through and tonight we will be rewarded with, what is sure to be a very entertaining game, between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins.


Team Records:

Toronto: 12-13-6-30pts

Pittsburgh: 17-9-4-38pts


My Thoughts:

Looking at those two records, it’s hard to believe that this will be a good game. With an eight point spread between the two teams, Pittsburgh is younger, faster, stronger, and arguably just a better team. As a matter of fact two days ago when I watched Sportscentre: The Hockey Quiz; (the most popular game show in Canadian TV), they asked the panel who the best forward in the game today was.

Two of the candidates came from the Penguins, Cindy Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Toronto’s blue line has to be much better if they want to shut down, not only those two, but the entire arsenal that comes with them. Pittsburgh is one of the best in the league, there’s no denying that fact. Vesa Toskala will have to be on his A game if he wants any chance in this game, because I highly doubt the Leafs defence is up to the challenge.

Game Analysis:

When you look at the roster it seems that Pittsburgh has the better Offense, Defence, and Goaltending. Marc Andre Fleury has proven to be a better goalie than Vesa Toskala, no dis-respect to Toskala, he is still one of the better goalies in the league, but, Fleury is better.

He is younger, faster, taller (by 3”) yet, weighs less (by 15lbs), and so he takes up more net and cover open spots quicker. Overall, Fleury is just the better and more reliable goaltender. If you don’t agree ask yourself, if I had to chose between the two of them, who would I pick?

Then we have offense. Let’s see, Antropov, Blake, and Grabovski against, Crosby, Malkin, Staal, and Satan. I wonder who has the edge there. Need I say more? Leafs aren’t bad on offense, but Pittsburgh’s guns will bury them if they pull the trigger too early.

As for defence, I used to think that Toronto had a good solid “D”; they had a lot of depth in the line-up. In recent games, (i.e. Thursday Night’s game, 8-5. There is no reason a team should score five goals and still lose a game) the Leafs blue line has been less than stellar, they will need to step it up if they wish to shut down the Pens and have a shot at winning.

Game Expectation and Projected score:

Leafs defence must step up and can’t leave it all on Vesa. If they fail to do this they will lose miserably. That said, Toronto needs to remember they can’t win without putting the puck in the net. The inability to multi-task is what is making “W” so hard to come by for the Leaf.

Pick: Pittsburgh 6-2ish