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Keys To The Game: Leafs vs. Avalanche

by David Alter / Toronto Maple Leafs

The Leafs are in the Mile-High city tonight to wrap up their season series with the Colorado Avalanche. Here are three keys to coming out of Denver with two-points.

Move the Feet

The Maple Leafs had a difficult time getting up to speed in the opening period of Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to Phoenix. While Colorado has struggled, they are one of the faster teams in the league. Giving players like Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly some open space is a game the Leafs can’t afford to play. The Avalanche will be looking to right the wrongs of their Tuesday loss to Vancouver. A players’ only meeting did wonders for the Leafs a little while ago. After Colorado held one after their last game, they’ll be looking for that quick start. The Leafs need to establish a forechek early.

Limit the Mistakes

Far too many mistakes in Tuesday’s game meant the Leafs lost a game that was very winnable. Colorado is on a major downswing, having lost three straight games. The Avalanche have surrendered a league-high 497 shots to date, and have only averaged 20 shots on goal per game over their last couple of contests. If Toronto play tighter in their own zone, while continuing their aggressiveness on the forecheck, there is no reason they don’t come out of this contest with a win. While the Leafs came away with two points in their last meeting, the Avalanche still managed to take advantage of their opportunities. The young guns will burn the Leafs should they commit similar turnovers like they did in Phoenix.

Don’t Fear the Unknown

Goaltender Reto Berra is expected to make just his fourth start of the season in goal for the Avalanche. In his limited NHL career, Berra has never played in a game against the Maple Leafs. Berra has also yet to lose a game in regulation this season. The Leafs best tact against this weapon is to stick to what has worked well for them this season…get bodies to the net. Many goals have been scored with the goaltender not able to see. Expect players like James van Riemsdyk and David Clarkson to be back on screening-the-goaltender duty.

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