Hockey Night in Canada Preview
Be prepared for exciting hockey!
Friday, February 2, 2018
Toronto @ Boston
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Buds are on a roll! In their past 3 games, they only allowed 1 goal and scored 13 of them! Young defensemen, Travis Dermott and Justin Holl are like a breeze of fresh air for the Leafs. They provide good first passes, they jump in on the rush and create all sort of havoc with their speed. Now, let’s be honest and not kid ourselves. The Leafs played the Dallas Stars, the New York Islanders and the Rangers. All teams with porous defense and questionable goaltending. But the Stars and the Islanders represent two powerful offences that the Leafs almost shut down completely, allowing only 1 goal to Dallas. Toronto neutralized the 2nd best offence in the NHL when they obliterated John Tavares’ team. For Saturday’s matchup, the Leafs will certainly have their hands full with Boston’s young guns and seasoned wolves. Fortunately for the Buds, star forward Brad Marchand won’t be in the lineup, he’s serving a 5 games suspension. The Maple Leafs will win this one by 1 goal and this one could go the distance.
The Bruins felt Brad Marchand’s absence on their 1st game back after the All-Star break, losing 3-1 to the Anaheim Ducks. They eventually bounced back against a good St-Louis Blues team, thanks to Tuukka Rask efforts. Boston has been one, of the most surprising team in the NHL, sitting in 2nd place of the Atlantic Division behind Tampa Bay and in front of the Leafs. They produce offence by committee with some impressive young talent upfront, but with the same near-perfect Patrice Bergeron leading the gang. The main concern for Boston tonight will be their speed on the back end. Not necessarily footspeed wise, but sometimes it’s hard for Boston’s D-men to find the right option getting out of their own end and they tend to create turnovers between their blue line and center-ice, which may be very costly against a speedy and confident Toronto squad. The Bruins will have to get the best of Rask in order to keep this one close, which they will. This one will be a close game, looking for the Leafs to get the upper hand, they are on fire!
Tampa Bay @ Vancouver
Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa is quite the powerhouse this season in the NHL. With a +51 goal differential, they are well above anyone else, Boston being second with a +40. The Lightning is lead by the Kucherov-Stamkos tandem, but they are also stacked on defense with Victor Hedman and sensational rookie, Mikhail Sergachev. Goaltending hasn’t been issue either for the Bolts, Andrei Vasilevski has been incredible and often keeps his team in games, giving them the luxury to refocus and regain the upper hand in close games. Tampa comes from an offensive explosion when they defeated the Calgary Flames 7-4 on Thursday and will be looking to keep it going offensively, but to tighten things defensively. The Canucks will surely offer a lesser opposition than Calgary, but they should be confident after doubling the Chicago Blackhawks at home. This game will be fun to watch, it could turn ugly, but I think that Tampa wins it 4-2 or 3-1.
They’re hanging around, give the Canucks credit for believing in themselves. Although they are well out of a playoff spot, the Canucks are playing hard and aren’t an easy opponent to face. Obviously they don’t have the weapons to compete with the top teams in the league, they will not lay down and play dead. Obviously, Brock Boeser will get much of the attention form Tampa’s defence, but some other players are deserving a closer look too. Players like Bo Horvat, Thomas Vanek and the Sedins. The ‘Nucks are coming off 2 important wins. They defeated one of the hottest team in the league when they won against Colorado and they won against the Blackhawks. Vancouver could very well outcompete the Lightning on Saturday, but Tampa is just too stack to lose to the Canucks. Goaltender Jakob Markstrom may steal this one, but I wouldn’t put money on it. Although, you never know: Talent is nothing without effort!