Carolina Hurricanes vs. Toronto Maple Leafs Preview (October 26)
After managing to stave off the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night, the Toronto Maple Leafs sit in the Atlantic Division’s playoff zone with a mighty 7-2-0 record. The Carolina Hurricanes have a couple of games in hand on the teams above them in the standings and are closing in on an Eastern Conference wild-card place.
On Thursday, October 26 the Hurricanes will bring their clean-cut, defensive style of hockey to the Air Canada Centre to take on the very gung-ho, high-scoring Toronto Maple Leafs. The game presents possibly the most polar-opposite matchup that the NHL could produce.
As shown by Toronto being the second-favorites to win the Eastern Conference at 21/4, with Carolina at 25/1, the Maple Leafs are a considerably more dangerous team than the Hurricanes. But, while this may be true, they’re certainly struggling to keep the puck out of the net.
With 30 goals against in nine games and a starting goalie, Frederik Andersen, on a 3.24 GAA, the Maple Leafs can certainly be scored on. The Hurricanes are quite the opposite, having only conceded 16 goals in their first six games of the season. Their new goaltender Scott Darling has needed to adjust to now being a starting goalie, but his 0.898 save percentage through five games is promising for the 28-year-old.
This is greatly down to the different styles of play. With the likes of Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews, William Nylander, Patrick Marleau, and Nazem Kadri on the team, Toronto plays to their strengths with fast, very attacking hockey. They basically go in with the plan of scoring more than their opponents because they have the squad to do so.
The Hurricanes boast a very technically skilled defensive corps with players like Jaccob Slavin, Justin Faulk, and Noah Hanifin, as well as some great two-way forwards dotted throughout the lines in Jordan Staal, Sebastian Aho, and Justin Williams making a defensive strategy their preferred style of play. They don’t score a plethora of goals, but the scores will come eventually, from their base of a rock-solid but clean defense.
Carolina won’t give Toronto anything, shutting down their top players and rarely – if at all – putting them on the powerplay (only 36 penalty minutes in six games for the Canes), but Toronto’s speed and power may get end up being overwhelming for the young defense core of the Canes. It really is a case of defense versus offense in this one, and the Hurricanes have every chance of upsetting the Maple Leafs.
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