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Behind Enemy Lines: Maple Leafs’ Calder Hopefuls Come to Raleigh

The young Maple Leafs come in to Raleigh off of back to back losses and look to rebound against the Canes.

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Toronto Maple Leafs Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Maple Leafs entered this week in a playoff position. However, after two straight losses, they sit one point behind Boston for the final wild card position.

The Leafs lost their last two games by a combined 11-5 score. Much like the Canes, the Maple Leafs are a young team which can lead to results like these. Frederik Andersen has had a good season earning a .914 Sv%, but early in the season, the Leafs struggled to find a viable backup.

This came to an end with the Leafs claimed Curtis McElhinney off of the waivers from the Blue Jackets. McElhinney has a higher save percentage (.924) and a lower GAA (2.52.) than Andersen.

The Leafs have been led by their new young core. The Leafs forwards are led by Mitch Marner (out injured tonight), Auston Matthews, and William Nylander who are 20 years old or younger. All three players have 40 points.

Defensively the team is led by two alternate captains, Morgan Rielly and Matt Hunwick. Rielly is 22 years old in his fourth year with the team. Rielly isn’t just a leader in the locker room he has been effective on the ice as well He has 22 points (2g, 19a).

Offensively the team is led by Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews who both joined the team this season. Both Marner and Matthews have 48 points coming into today’s contest. Matthews leads the team with 27 goals and Marner leads the team with 33 assists. Both players are competing for both the rookie goal and point championships.

These additions offensively have paid off. Toronto has been dangerous all season, their 176 goals for is 6th best in the league. Toronto has been winning the even strength play with a 51.5 gf% which shows that they are on the plus side five on five.

This young offense will now match up against one of the league's best young defenses in the Carolina Hurricanes. The Canes won the first meeting of the year way back in November by a score of 2-1. Much has changed since then and both teams now look to end multi-game losing streaks.

Game Notes:

  • The Canes are 6-0-1 in their last seven home games against the Leafs dating back to 2011. This game marks the first of two games between these teams at PNC this season.
  • The Carolina Hurricanes league-leading penalty kill unit will have their hands full tonight. The Leafs league-leading power play unit is better on the road (28%) than they are at home (18.9%).
  • Despite having a +8 goal differential, the Leafs have only a 50.5% Corsi for percentage. The Canes are a better possession team and have a 51.9% Corsi for Percentage.
  • This game is the second of a five-game homestand for the Canes. The Canes have a 17-6-2 home record. The Leafs have been relatively successful on the road with a 12-10-7 record.