(Photo by Don Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)
If you like plenty on shots, at least going one way, tonight’s Sharks-Maple Leafs matchup will be right up your alley. No team in the league puts more rubber on net than San Jose and no squad gives up more opportunities than Toronto. Simply put, it's going to get ugly.
If you like plenty on shots, at least going one way, tonight’s Sharks-Maple Leafs matchup will be right up your alley.
But it’s more than the season-long numbers that dictate why this one will be a shooting gallery for Leafs starter James Reimer. As THN Associate Senior Writer Ryan Kennedy detailed earlier this year, the go-go Sharks shoot first and don’t bother to ask questions since they’re too busy buzzing to get the puck back and reload.
This will be the first of two meetings between the two teams this season, but if you’re looking for a comparable, just go back to the Nov. 5 game between the Sharks and Sabres (the second-worst shots-against team in the NHL), in which Buffalo gave up 51 in a winning shootout effort (helped by the fact the Sharks played about 10 minutes of good hockey and the usually reliable Antti Niemi played arguably his worst game of the year).
Don't expect a similar outcome tonight.
The Maple Leafs have been in a downward spiral for a month now, winning only four times in November and having lost their past four (though they did get a pair of “loser points,” so bully for them). They’ll also be without Nazem Kadri, who’s out due to a death in the family, and Joffrey Lupul, who remains on the shelf groin injury. Toronto has trouble sustaining pressure with their offensive sparks in the lineup.
Meanwhile, the Sharks continue to roll, having won five straight and eight of their past nine. San Jose, No. 2 in the NHL in goals per game, features four players in the top 20 in scoring.
Simply put, the Sharks don’t stop and the Leafs can’t stop anything right now.
It’s going be ugly.