The Toronto Maple Leafs will dive head first into the St. Patrick’s Day spirit tonight as they prepare for a home ice clash with the Philadelphia Flyers.
It’s St. Pats night in Toronto; the one night of the year in which the Leafs don, quite literally, the best looking jerseys in the entire NHL. This is not a subjective statement. Nothing else can compare.
Just look at those bad boys. Have you ever seen anything so beautiful?
When it comes to the actual hockey being played, however, the Leafs will be taking on the Philadelphia Flyers, who teeter on the very edge of playoff contention at the moment, sitting 5 points back of the second wild card.
It hasn’t been an easy season for the Flyers thus far. Aside from watching both their head coach and general manager get fired mid-season, they currently sport the league’s 21st ranked goal differential (-19) and sit 18th in the overall standings, as well.
On the bright side, tonight will see the Flyers welcome back their third-leading scorer, Jakub Voracek, following a 2-game suspension. With 61 points in 63 games, Voracek is undoubtedly one of Philadelphia’s most vital contributors, and regaining his services directly in the midst of a hotly contested playoff race is about as good as news can get for them.
For the Leafs, it’s just one more weapon they’ll hope to neutralize.
Justin Holl Back In
For just the fifth time this season, Justin Holl will take to the ice as an actual, tangible member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Remember this moment, folks. They don’t come around very often.
Holl will get another chance to establish himself in the Leafs’ lineup tonight, as the team hopes to get back on track after a pair of grisly losses. Mike Babcock even reiterated as much this morning.
It’s about as small as sample sizes can get, but Holl has actually been a decent possession driver this season, relative to his defence partner, whenever he’s gotten the call. His 48.0% CF/60 at 5v5 is not fantastic, of course, but it’s a perfectly fine metric for a third pairing defenceman and even more impressive when considering how Holl has had to adapt to spotty usage.
Gaining momentum can’t necessarily be easy when you’re only playing once every two months.
Holl is expected to line up alongside Martin Marincin, per DailyFaceoff.
Back to Freddy
After pulling him in back to back games, Mike Babcock has opted to trust his starter once again and give Frederik Andersen a shot at redemption tonight.
The past two outings have been strangely uncharacteristic of Andersen’s season thus far. The 9-year-old is on pace to shatter the Leafs’ franchise record for wins in a season and, if he’s able to regain his form, could very well be nominated for the Vezina at year’s end. That’s how good Freddy’s 2018-19 has been, Monday and Wednesday aside.
Andersen currently holds a .920 save percentage, with career-best totals in both GSAA (goals saved against average) at 19.20 and GA% (goals against percentage) at 88.
If anyone has earned the benefit of the doubt, it’s him.
Puck drops at 7 PM.