It certainly hasn’t been a jolly Christmas season for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The team got shelled 7-4 against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday and then got blanked 4-0 by the Chicago Blackhawks.
The team is on a three game losing skid and will look to bounce back against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night.
Kessel vs. Seguin
The Leaf’s top forwards Phil Kessel, James Van Reimsdyk and Tyler Bozak will be leaned on heavily to end this slump quickly. The team’s goaltenders will have their work cut out for them as well. The duo of Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn has been on fire of late.
The two combined for five points in the Stars overtime victory against the Edmonton Oilers. Seguin has accumulated a total of 18 points in 19 games against the Leafs. Kessel has 15 points in 12 games. These guys continue to carry their team throughout the season. The Stars are built on speed and will hope to outwork the Leaf’s defense to create decent chances.
The Leaf’s success from their powerplay and penalty kill units has really helped them win games. The challenge for the Leafs will be strengthening the defense and helping out their goaltender. Many of the goals the Leafs have conceded recently have been due to defensive breakdowns and losing key puck battles. If the Leafs find a way to win the one on one battles and limit the Stars time on the puck, they’ll have a chance of winning this game.
Stars have slight edge
The Stars have two huge advantages heading into this game. The first one is that the Stars are playing at home and will be able to feed off the energy from the crowd. The second is that the Stars secondary scoring options are accumulating points. Veterans Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky combined for three points against the Oilers and Erik Cole also scored a goal. If Jason Spezza starts accumulating chances, the Stars will easily win this game.
This will be a very exciting game. I can’t wait to see how the battle between Seguin and Kessel will unfold. It will be interesting to see which Leaf goalie will have to face Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen. The first goal will be critical in this game and if the Stars get it, it could lead to a blowout victory. One of these teams will be entering the Christmas break with a win. I can’t wait to see who’ll score first.