The Maple Leafs host the defending Stanley Cup champions tonight at Air Canada Centre. Here are the three keys necessary for a Leafs victory.
Force your will
On Saturday night, the Maple Leafs did a better job of leading the play with an aggressive forecheck. The Kings are one of the best teams at making the opposition play on their heels, and will be looking to exploit a Leafs team, that might be tired after a hard-fought win over the Detroit Red Wings. Leafs coach Randy Carlyle has changed his approach to these back-to-back games as one big six-period contest with a very long intermission. An interesting an different approach, given the 5pm start.
The Maple Leafs have a better power-play and penalty-kill proficiency than the Los Angeles Kings. But the edge is slight. Toronto has been on a roll with the man advantage, scoring seven goals in their last seven games. As tough as it will be to beat the Kings 5-on-5, beating them on special teams could make the difference.
While the Maple Leafs have been on fire in goal, the Kings have been great between the pipes all season. Jonathan Quick and Martin Jones have combined to allow an average of just 2.20 goals per game, third best in the NHL. It’ll be very difficult to get past the Kings defence. An ability to get to the net and create traffic in front of the Kings netminder will be a must. Meanwhile, the Leafs will have to be as sharp as they’ve been in goal, during this recent win streak. Definitely, a tough task for either Leafs goaltender.