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Keys To The Game: Leafs vs. Red Wings

by David Alter / Toronto Maple Leafs

The Maple Leafs host the Detroit Red Wings for the third and final time at Air Canada Centre. Here are the Leafs three keys to victory.

Possess the puck
It sounds simple, right? If you have more control of the puck, you should create more opportunities toward the net and have the game go your way. Over the last three games, that hasn’t been the case. The Leafs have been badly out-shot and out-chanced, yet the combination Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer has been the difference. The odds of your goaltender bailing you out for a fourth consecutive game is highly unlikely, and a precedent you can’t rely on. The Leafs have to force their will on Detroit and create a barrage in front of the Detroit net.

Employ solid one-on-one coverage
While there has been an emphasis for better defensive zone coverage, it starts with protecting your man. It’s been said that great teams don’t focus on playing better defensively, they focus more on winning the one-on-one battles with the players they are assigned to. If you take care of your player, the defence takes care of itself. The Leafs will have a tough job of winning those assignments with the likes of Henrik Zetterberg, Gustav Nyquist and Pavel Datsyuk, just to name a few.

Fresh legs and quick start
On Wednesday, it was Detroit that had a bit of a rest, while the Maple Leafs were playing in the back half of back-to-back games. Tonight, the situation reverses itself, with the Red Wings coming off a shootout loss against the Panthers. The Leafs need to pounce on potential Detroit fatigue and get the right players out to draw first blood. The Leafs remain 12-0-0 this season, when they get the first goal. That can easily continue.

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