NHL Game of the Week: Detroit Red Wings vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs are set to face the Detroit Red Wings Thursday night in a pivotal Atlantic Division matchup.
The Maple Leafs are one of the best teams in the NHL sitting in third place in the overall standings and second place in the Atlantic division with 57 points.
They are led by their superstars Mitch Marner, Austin Matthews, William Nylander and John Tavares. All four of those players have 40 or more points and have played in every single game this year.
The Maple Leafs' offense ranks seventh in goals per game and has a dangerous powerplay also ranking seventh in the NHL.
In the past few seasons, the Maple Leafs have always had concerning defensive and goaltending play but that is not true for this year. They rank third in goals allowed per game and only allow 28.5 shots on goal per game which ranks fifth best in the league.
Goaltender Ilya Samsonov is expected to start against the Red Wings on Thursday. He has had a strong year with a 12-3-1 record and a 2.29 GAA.
It is a different story for the Detroit Red Wings as they have had a rough season thus far. The Red Wings are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games and sit in sixth place in the Atlantic division with only 39 points on the season.
The main issue for the Red Wings has been the lack of scoring. Even though they have good players such as team captain Dylan Larkin and forward David Perron the team just has not clicked as well as some people thought before the year.
Detroit ranks 24th in goals per game and has a 26th-ranked powerplay. Those numbers need to improve if they want to make the playoffs.
The defense has been slightly better than the offense in terms of statistics but is still below average. They rank 20th in goals allowed and have the 21st-ranked penalty kill. Slowing down the Maple Leafs' offense could be a challenge for Detroit.
Goaltender Ville Husso, who was acquired in the offseason, has also been struggling as he has given up 3 goals or more in each of his past five games.
Anything can happen on any given night in the NHL, but the Maple Leafs are the better team in every aspect, and I believe they will defeat the Red Wings on Thursday.
Prediction: Maple Leafs 5 - Red Wings 2.
**All stats used in this article were from before Tuesday and Wednesday’s NHL games**.
Ben Wasserman is a junior majoring in telecommunications and media industries, to contact him please email, firstname.lastname@example.org
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