Toronto Maple Leafs (6-5-1) at Colorado Avalanche (3-6-5)
|Date & Time||Thursday November 6, 2014, 9:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: Colorado Avalanche -125 / Toronto Maple Leafs +114 --- Over/Under: 5.5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
The disastrous sophomore season for head coach Patrick Roy continues when the Colorado Avalanche host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night. Colorado just can’t get out of its own way right now, losers of eight of their first 11 hockey games to start the year. Their record against the Western Conference to start the year is 1-4-3 and so it might be a good thing that the next seven games the Avalanche play are all against the Eastern Conference. This club isn’t scoring consistently right now, they can’t keep the puck out of their net, and their hall of fame coach is already calling out his new hall of fame in waiting addition to the roster. While Roy’s comments about Jarome Iginla’s poor defensive play weren’t anything egregious, it remains to be seen just how long Roy will be able to make sure his message gets through. Always known as a hot-tempered individual, Roy made a name for himself in the Canadian Hockey League coaching teenagers and often erupting on officials. While the demeanor plays well to fans that love to see fire and coaches hold players accountable, it can wear thin on players who are getting paid millions of dollars. Right now the message that Roy is sending isn’t working and with expectations high in the city of Denver things need to get turned around quickly. Tuesday night against the Vancouver Canucks thing actually got off to a great start before the Avalanche imploded. John Mitchell scored just over a minute into the game and Jame McGinn added his fourth of the year to put the Avalanche in front 2-0 after one period of play. Vancouver cut the deficit to a goal in the second period and in the finally frame they added to Colorado’s misery. Vancouver tallied four times on just 10 shots, dropping Semyon Varlamov to 2-4-4 on the year. Varlamov was fantastic for the Avs last season but he hasn’t been able to find his game to start the year. Colorado has a lot of things they need to fix if they want to start playing like the club we saw last year.
For the Toronto Maple Leafs it has been a relatively solid start to the season but there hasn’t been much heavy competition to this point. Toronto has faced just two Western Conference clubs to start the year, one of them being Colorado, and they’ve split those matches. The Maple Leafs defeated the Avalanche 3-2 with Phil Kessel scoring the overtime winner just 34 seconds into the extra session. Tuesday night the Maple Leafs were in Arizona to take on Mike Smith and the struggling Coyotes, but a slow start to the game was something they couldn’t recover from. The Maple Leafs allowed two goals in an opening period that saw them out shot 10-3, and when the Coyotes scored the third goal it was all but over. Dion Phaneuf’s power play marker gave Toronto life, and Coy Franson added his second of the season with the man advantage in the third, but Toronto could never find the equalizer. This is a Maple Leafs club that looks a lot like the Toronto clubs we’ve seen in recent years. It’s one that will probably overachieve for the first half of the season and get everyone’s hopes up, only to fall into a miserable rut the second of the year and fail to make the playoffs. There just don’t seem to be enough game breakers on this club and when you add together the defense, goaltending, and lack of puck possession, it’s hard to see this team doing much going forward. Thursday night will be a good test for them on the road against a talented team that’s desperate for a win.
Colorado has done nothing to warrant being a favorite right now and this is a game that’s probably best to stay away from. Toronto needs to show me they’re for real by beating some stiffer competition. Despite Colorado’s struggles this would be a good start for the Maple Leafs.