Tonight, the Toronto Maple Leafs take on the Vegas Golden Knights at Scotiabank Arena.
While the Vegas Golden Knights have had a rough start to their 2018-19 campaign, they certainly have a few stellar players, including Jonathan Marchessault.
The native of Cap-Rouge, Quebec has been nothing but outstanding this season. He’s the leading goal scorer on the Golden Knights’ roster and currently has 6 goals, 7 assists, 1 power-play goal, 4 power-play points and a 9.8 shooting percentage (S%) in 14 games played.
In Marchessault’s 2015-16 season, he was playing with the Florida Panthers and had a solid season, but it wasn’t until after expansion draft that he finally emerged as a premier goal scorer in the NHL. In his first season with Vegas, he was easily the best Golden Knight forward. He finished the season with 27 goals, 48 assists, 6 power-play goals, 16 power-play points and a 10.1 S%.
At the pace that Marchessault is currently on, he is projected to put up similar offensive numbers to last season.
In addition, he’s also fairly excellent when it comes to possession and defensive numbers. This season, he owns a 59.7 Corsi-for percentage (CF%) and a 58.7 Fenwick-for percentage (FF%). It’s also worth noting that Marchessault hasn’t posted a CF% less than 50% in a game this season. The lowest CF% per game that he has registered is 50%.
While it’s extremely evident that the Toronto Maple Leafs need to shut down Marchessault, the Golden Knights also have some other threats too. His line-mate, William Karlsson has been electric as well. So far to date, he has 3 goals and 7 assists.
Their second line centre, Erik Haula has been impressive in the offensive zone as well. At this point, he owns 2 goals and 5 assists. Yet, it is worth noting that his line-mate, Max Pacioretty has looked far from excellent since joining the Golden Knights. Pacioretty hasn’t been lighting up the lamp since packing up and moving to Nevada.
Hopefully, for Pacioretty, his slump is just a minor speed bump and he’ll be dominant once again very shortly.
After Haula, there are a few other forwards including Reilly Smith and Alex Tuch, who are both off to solid starts.
In the defensive zone, the Golden Knights have been impressive as well. No Golden Knight defenseman owns a CF% under 50%. The deadliest defenseman on the Golden Knights roster is Shea Theodore. After 14 games, Theodore currently owns 1 goal, 4 assists, 21:37 ATOI and a 59.8 CF%.
All-in-all, the Golden Knights have had a tough start to the season, but they shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Per a report from Jonas Siegel of The Athletic, the Toronto Maple Leafs had an optional skate this morning. Hayley Wickenheiser, the Assistant Director of Player Development led the skate, per the tweet below.
Since the Toronto Maple Leafs had an optional skate, the lines at this morning’s practice most likely won’t be the lines that Mike Babcock rolls with tonight against Vegas.
Babcock will likely roll with the same lines that he featured in Pittsburgh on Saturday night. The Toronto Maple Leafs steamrolled the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Steel City and it would be odd for Babcock to make adjustments to his lines after they left Western Pennsylvania with a 5-0 win.
The one change that Babcock could potentially make is inserting Trevor Moore into tonight’s lineup. Moore, a native of Thousand Oaks, California (just due north of Los Angeles) has been a joy to watch in his first 10 games this season with the Toronto Marlies.
Perhaps, Babcock will opt to plug Moore in on his fourth line and allow the 23-year-old to make his NHL debut. Stay tuned.
Prediction & Notes
My prediction is that the Toronto Maple Leafs will grab their third win in a row and defeat the Vegas Golden Knights by a score of 5-3.
Puck drop will be at approximately 7:05 pm EST and the game can be found on TSN-4 in the Greater Toronto Area.
stats from NHL.com and hockey-reference.com