The Leafs have one of the most potent offensive attacks in the NHL and when they're on the power play, they're downright scary.
With a deep and talented lineup featuring Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares, William Nylander and Morgan Rielly, Toronto can score in bunches and quickly put any game out of reach.
That's why the Wings will have to be tenacious on the forecheck, forcing turnovers and making the Leafs stars play defense by keeping them bottled up in their own end.
It's a lot easier said than done and if the Red Wings can't stay out of the penalty box, the task of quelling the Leafs becomes significantly more difficult.
"Discipline is a huge thing all the time. We've done a good job of that, sometimes every game takes a life of its own and sometimes the referees have something to do with that, every referee refs a game a little different. Certainly discipline is huge," said Wings coach, Jeff Blashill. "I watched the game the other night, the replay of the Toronto-Tampa game in the first there I wouldn't want to put either team on the power play there, it was unreal and there was probably preventable penalties in that game. So, we certainly don't want to put (Toronto on the power play).
"Ottawa in the first game against Toronto (a 5-3, Leafs win) did an excellent job in their first couple of kills, but if you just keep putting any power play out there, especially really good ones over and over again, they're eventually going to find a way in the zone and if they find a way in the zone lots, they're going to score and so we have to make sure, one, we're disciplined and two, we do a great job in the penalty kill."
The Leafs will be in an especially foul mood after dropping their last three games, all at home. They did managed a point in an overtime loss to the Canadiens, but in their last game against the Lightning, the Leafs were humbled 7-3.
"When they play up to their game, they're really good," Blashill said. "When they work, they're a really good hockey team. We're going to have to work hard and be on top of our game. I just think that's every night. I think every time you have a tough loss you have some fire in your belly, but it's not for us to worry about, we got to worry about ourselves."
The Wings are off to a fast start primarily because they have the mindset of it being about what they do, inot about being obsessed with the opponent.
"Just managing the puck well, playing good defense, staying out of the penalty box" said Calgary-raised Taro Hirose, when asked how to beat the Leafs. "They have a great power play. Just like coach says, we can't beat ourselves tonight. That's the game plan.
"I wouldn't say I'm anti-Maple Leafs. I'm anti-every team in the league except for us. I'm just hope we can pull off two points in this game."
HRONEK A GAME-TIME DECISION: For the second day in a row, defenseman Filip Hronek did not skate, which makes his status for tonight's game up in the air.
"Yesterday (not practicing) was a precaution and then we'll see tonight," Blashill said. "There's a chance he's in, there's a chance he's out. We'll know more tonight."
Hronek was checked hard into the glass late in the third period in Montreal and needed stiches above his left eye to close a gash.
But according to Blashill, Hronek has been going through tests to determine if he's ready to play. He wouldn't elaborate further.
If Hronek cannot play, Alex Biega will be inserted into the lineup.
Biega was acquired by the Wings on Oct. 6 from Vancouver for David Pope and has practiced all week with the Wings.
"You'd love to have him go through training camp and a hundred practices under your best but that's just not the reality of the situation," Blashill said. "He's done a good job the last few days of practice, he's had a chance to watch us play. I think he'd be prepared to go in and do a good job."
Biega is looking forward to making his Detroit debut if he's called upon.
"For the most part, it's like the first day of school again, just coming in, getting accustomed to the culture and the guys and the systems," he said. "Every game since I've been here, I watched them talk and tried to get a good understanding of the systems defensively, which I think I have now.
"At the end of the day, when I do get an opportunity, it's just a matter of going in there and playing your game and not thinking too much about the systems. That will come over time. Just excited for the opportunity when it presents itself."
He's been paired with Danny DeKeyser and has been impressed with DeKeyser's game.
"He's a great player. I'm familiar with him just watching him and playing against him, even on TV when I watched the Wings play. He's just the prototypical defenseman nowadays where you can skate and using your skating to defend," Biega said. "He (has) really good puck-moving abilities and a guy that can contribute on both ends of the ice. He's been a great player here and will be for years to come."
NIELSEN SHOOTING FOR NEXT WEEK, ERICSSON UNCERTAIN: Injured Red Wings Frans Nielsen (upper body) and Jonathan Ericsson (upper body) both skated this morning with Nielsen telling reporters he's hoping to be back in the lineup Tuesday in Vancouver, but he expects to play during the Red Wings' three-game swing through Western Canada.
Ericsson is caught in limbo and it's starting to affect him mentally.
"It's a new injury but it's also involving older injuries. It kind of goes hand-in-hand," Ericsson said. "When it first happened, I thought I had more of a timeline in mind but I didn't stick to that timeline. Going to have to take a couple of steps back on the way to recovery. I just don't want to have a timeline and get disappointed again. Just take it day by day and see how it goes.
"It's been frustrating. It's been a lot of injuries. I just want to get back as soon as possible. I did skate a little bit yesterday. Some things are feeling bad but then today I'm good. I'm just hoping it's not getting worse. I think I feel pretty good and then a couple of steps back again. Hopefully now I'm turning the corner."
Ericsson has been out since the beginning of the year.
BLASHILL, NOT A HOT DOG FAN: After his comment about eating three hot dogs instead of his customary two in Montreal became a social media hit, Blashill wanted to clear the air on where he stands on hot dogs.
"I want to get some clarity here, because my wife was super concerned, actually not concerned, more like (ticked)," Blashill said. "That is not a normal thing every game, it's in Montreal, they bring down these really nice hot dogs, they have real buns and they're really good.
"So Montreal is the only place I ever eat hot dogs in pregame. In fact, I really don't like hot dogs that much, but pregame in Montreal I usually go with two, because I have no self-discipline, but I went with three, my wife said I could have went with one."
Blashill chose to devour the extra dog, hoping to change the Wings fortunes against Montreal. Entering Thursday's game, the Red Wings were on a nine-game losing streak to the Canadiens.
"I heard they're not as good as they used to be. I think they're living on hype still," Blashill said. "But when they're sitting there and they bring the thing right down, how can you not have one? It's impossible."
When asked to choose between Montreal's hot dog or the legendary Detroit Coney dog, the Motor City-born Blashill was adamant.
"I'd take the Detroit Coney for sure, but I don't get those brought down to me before every game, thank God, thank God."
He was reminded Coney dogs are available in the press room, Blashill quickly responded.
"I don't go down to the press area, I don't want to see you guys any more than I have to."