Spying on the Saboteur: Philadelphia Flyers vs Toronto Maple Leafs

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Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Winners of four of their last five games, the Philadelphia Flyers host the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight. Over this season, the Flyers have been one of the better teams to play on home ice. Recently, they’ve turned over that home-ice success to the road to finish strong in November. December is the season for giving if November is the season of thanks. Tonight, Philadelphia says thank you to their success in November and plans on giving their home crowd a win tonight at the Wells Fargo Center.

Since the last time the Flyers faced the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto has made a coaching change. The Maple Leafs new head coach is Sheldon Keefe after five seasons with the Toronto Marlies. A win tonight gives Philadelphia their 100th all-time against Toronto. If the Flyers can secure a win tonight, they will be trending in the right direction as they take on a heavy schedule of non-division opponents in December.

Carter Hart will be back in net tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs after Brian Elliott got the win most recently against the Montreal Canadiens in overtime. Frederik Andersen will be in net against the Philadelphia Flyers tonight for the Maple Leafs. In the last ten games, the Flyers have the advantage, 6-4. This season, Philadelphia and Toronto are 1-1, both of those games having been settled by a one-goal margin. The Maple Leafs list Trevor Moore (IR; shoulder) on their injury report with Mitch Marner a possibility to return against the Flyers.

Toronto Maple Leafs – Skaters

The only Toronto Maple Leaf skater to play 28 games and have more points than games played is Auston Matthews. He’s been a complete stud for a few seasons now in Toronto. His 31 points lead the team and he is spreading the wealth evenly between himself and his teammates. Matthews is a goal scorer when it’s even-strength hockey and more of a playmaker when his team is on the powerplay. He has 16 goals this season and 15 assists.

The defenseman to focus on is Justin Holl. He has a team-high +/- of ten and has contributed eight points this season. His offensive points are mostly from assists, only scoring once this season. He isn’t the most physical defenseman on the team, but he does his fair share. Holl has accumulated 21 blocked shots and 29 hits this season.

Toronto Maple Leafs – Goaltending

Frederik Andersen has started the most games this season for the Toronto Maple Leafs in a season where three goaltenders have been used. In 21 games, Andersen is 13-5-3 with one shutout recorded. To Andersen’s credit, he’s only had one bad start this year. He averages a 2.47 goal against average and yields a 92.1% save percentage. In case this game goes into a shootout, Andersen has a 78.6% save percentage in that scenario.

Faceoff Possession

Both franchises are over 50% in team faceoff winning percentage. The Toronto Maple Leafs are at 52.2% while the Philadelphia Flyers maintain 54.3%. On the Maple Leafs, the best faceoff opportunists are Auston Matthews, Frederick Gauthier, and William Nylander. For the Flyers, they look to Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, and Scott Laughton. The advantage here stays with Philadelphia.

Prediction

Coming into this game, the Philadelphia Flyers have five points on the Toronto Maple Leafs in the overall NHL standings. With a win and a Montreal Canadiens win, the Flyers will be one point out of second place in the Metropolitan Division. If the Maple Leafs get the win tonight, they will move into second place in the Atlantic Division with help from a Minnesota Wild win. Team defense and a solid penalty kill will be key for a Philadelphia victory tonight. In the last showdown between these two teams this regular season, the Flyers seem right as the underdog, but I would take that bet.

Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The money line favors the Toronto Maple Leafs at -115 with an over-under set at 6.5. Follow me at EricReesePSN and Philly Sports Network at PhiladelphiaSN on Twitter!

Mandatory Credit – Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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