The Maple Leafs take on the Penguins in Pittsburgh, hoping to extend their winning streak to three games. Here’s what they will need to do in order to accomplish that goal.
High Tempo Start
Off the heels of some difficult performances, the Maple Leafs performed well in games against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Detroit Red Wings. Both games saw the Leafs score the first goal while the first of the two games saw the Leafs dictate the majority of play early in the game. The Leafs must continue to establish their forecheck by winning battles, but doing so early on.
The Maple Leafs won a majority of faceoffs against the Lightning, but lost the faceoff battle to the Red Wings on Saturday. At least Tyler Bozak helped in that department by winning most of his draws in the defensive zone. The Leafs' ability to win the draw will be key in generating scoring chances against Pittsburgh. Shots on goal are an important indicator for each team’s success. Pittsburgh is second in the NHL in winning percentage when outshooting their opponents (.909) while Toronto ranks fifth (.800).
Win Special Teams and 5-on-5
Pittsburgh has the best winning percentage in the NHL because they perform at the top of the league in every situation. They are second in the NHL when it comes to five-on-five goals for/goals against, they have the top ranked power-play and the fourth best penalty-kill. The performance put forth by the Leafs in a 2-1 loss to Pittsburgh earlier this month was impressive despite losing. That performance would get them wins against other opponents, but Pittsburgh is just too good right now. The Leafs need to be better in every situation in order to come up with two points on the road.