Welcome to the What to Watch segment! Your key NHL game to post on the radar for your weekend hockey viewing.
For this weekend’s pick I will have to go with the Vancouver Canucks at the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday night. Two Canadian clubs that are both sitting in second place in their respective divisions in the 2011-12 campaign.
Keys to victory for the Canucks:
–Find the Twine: The Canucks are one of only four NHL teams to have scored 100 goals so far this season. They have dented the ‘twine’ 101 times as I write this, and rank fourth out of 30 teams. If they can continue to light the lamp with their current success rate, they will have a great chance to win in Toronto.
–Double Down: The Sedin twins have garnered plenty of attention throughout their NHL careers! This is of course for their point production and almost sixth sense of knowing where each other will be at the right time on the ice. If Daniel and Henrik are firing on all cylinders Saturday night, the Leafs will be having fits in their own end.
–Hockey Night Hoopla: The Canucks are used to playing at home on Saturday nights. So, this will be a pre-Christmas treat for many of the guys on their roster, as five Canuck players are from Ontario. There will be some pressure and nerves playing in front of family and friends in Toronto on Hockey Night in Canada! If the team can just tune out the off-ice distractions that will accompany this trip, then the Canucks will be fine at the Air Canada Centre.
Keys to victory for the Leafs:
–Different Strokes: The Leafs got off to a blistering start and scoring was not a problem. Unfortunately a disturbing trend has started for the club recently – being outscored in bunches! The ‘Blue and White’ have scored 93 times this year, while giving up 95 tallies. Their -2 goal differential puts them in the middle of the pack and in dangerous territory, as the top teams in the NHL are in the +15 and above range. The Leafs need a big offensive explosion Saturday night to get back on track in this regard.
–Sin Bin: The Leafs desperately need to stay out of the penalty box in this match-up. They rank 29th in the league on the penalty-kill. If they take stupid penalties Saturday, the Sedin twins will have a field day on the power-play. If the Leafs are disciplined they will increase their chances of two points.
–Back-to-Back Breather: The Leafs will be in tough on the road Friday night in Buffalo, before returning home for Saturday’s game against Vancouver. The team needs to be able to re-focus for the Canucks no matter what happens with the Sabres Friday. Back-to-Back games are always a tough ask! The ‘Buds’ will need their leaders to set the tone back at home at the ACC.
Enjoy this tilt Saturday! It should be an interesting match-up, and it’s always special when Canadian teams collide. Post any comments or observations you have about the ‘What to Watch‘ game in the ‘Mailbag‘ section, and I will gladly respond! Have a great NHL weekend.
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