Toronto Maple Leafs (27-35-6) at Calgary Flames (37-25-5)
|Date & Time||Friday March 13, 2015, 8:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Calgary Flames -210 / Toronto Maple Leafs +188 --- Over/Under: 5.5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
One of the things that Brendan Shanahan needed to do when he took over the Toronto Maple Leafs was project a new sense of control over the organization. The Maple Leafs operate under such a microscope that even the smallest things get blown out of proportion by the media in Toronto. It’s part of the business in Canada but for the last decade it seems like it’s too much for this organization to handle. Shanahan had the opportunity to change the culture and show that things were going to be different under his watch, but so far that hasn’t been the case. The newest drama surrounding the Maple Leafs revolves around Nazem Kadri and his off the ice antics. Kadri has been suspended by the team for two games and it’s just another sideshow that seems to follow this club around constantly. It’s amazing to think back to how well this team started the season because right now they don’t look much like a professional hockey team. Wednesday night the got a rare victory but it came against one of the few clubs in the league that is actually worse than they are. With the Buffalo Sabres in town the Maple Leafs found a way to squeak out of a victory in a shootout. Brandon Kozun and Leo Komarov scored first period goals, but Jonathan Bernier allowed two goals and the clubs were tied 2-2 after 20 minutes of play. Buffalo would take the lead in the second period with the only goal, and it wasn’t until the final minutes of regulation that the Maple Leafs would finally tie it on the power play on a goal by Tyler Bozak. After a scoreless overtime session Bozak scored the only goal for Toronto and Bernier stopped all three Sabres shooters to secure the 4-3 thing. Chances are things are going to get worse before they get better in Toronto and the end to this season doesn’t look like it’s going to be a pretty one.
Somehow at this point in the season the Calgary Flames are miraculously still in a playoff spot. With absolutely no expectations before the season started the Flames have surprised everyone and they continue to look like a club that might actually make this hold up. The bad news for the Flames is that they’ve got a team like the Los Angeles Kings right on their heels, but the good news is that even if they’re passed by Los Angeles they have a chance to get in as a wild card by overtaking Winnipeg. Wednesday night the Flames pulled off their fourth win in the last five games in impressive fashion, knocking off the Anaheim Ducks at the Scotiabank Saddledome by a score of 6-3. Anaheim jumped out to a quick lead, scoring 22 seconds into the game and adding a second goal at 2:51 of the opening period to stun the home crowd. Instead of panicking the Flames composed themselves and fought back right away. Matt Stajan’s sixth goal of the year got the Flames within a goal, and Johnny Gaudreau’s 17th of the season evened things up before the end of one. In the second period the Flames were out played, but they made the most of their opportunities. Calgary managed just four shots on goal in the period, but got goals from Stajan, Sean Monahan, and Gaudreau to take a 5-3 lead with them into the third period. Jiri Hudler finished the scoring with his 24th goal of the season.
This is a game that the Flames absolutely have to win if they’re going to make the post season. Calgary can’t turn this game into a run-and-gun shootout affair because that’s the only way the Leafs can stay in it with their porous defense. If Calgary comes out with the same effort they’ve shown most of the year they should have enough to take this one by a couple of goals.