Hey you. You’re swept up in all this Seattle Kraken hype. You want to know more about hockey but don’t know where to start. Well, we want to help make these games easy and fun for you to watch.
Throughout the season, we’ll release Landlubber’s Guides designed with the new fan in mind. This includes basic need-to-know info for you to absorb before you watch Kraken games and highlights.
Let’s dive into the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Are they any good?
Yes, the Leafs are a very good hockey team. They’re only 3rd in the Atlantic, but that’s because they are in a division with the Panthers and Lightning. They’ve got more standings points than any team in the Pacific right now. League-wide, Toronto has the 6th-best points percentage and goal differential and the number one power play.
The thing about the Leafs that you should know, however, is that their regular season success has not translated to postseason success in any way, shape or form. At all. In a long time. Toronto has had a great regular season record every year since drafting Auston Matthews (more on him in a minute) but hasn’t won a playoff series with him yet in five tries. The last time Toronto actually did win a playoff series, the number one song was Yeah! by Usher, featuring Lil John and Ludacris. Heck, we were only 3 years removed from a Mariners playoff win at that time. But remember, tonight isn’t a playoff game, so this is a dangerous Leafs team.
Who should I look out for?
Auston Matthews (#34, Center) - The pride of Scotsdale, Arizona, Auston Matthews is quite simply one of the best players in the game. Some even consider him alongside Connor McDavid as a tier above the rest of the NHL. In this dude’s first ever NHL game, at 19 years old, he scored 4 goals. He’s never finished a season with fewer than 34 goals, and this year is on pace to score 50+
All 30 Auston Matthews goals from this season. pic.twitter.com/jVUF6gmmwz— Rink Rat Report (@RinkRatReport) February 8, 2022
John Tavares (#91, Center) - Tavares has been a very good hockey player for a very long time. He’s scored at least 60 points in every 82-game season since his rookie year in 2009-10. He signed as a free agent with Toronto in 2018 after spending his first nine seasons with the New York Islanders, and many Isles fans will never forgive him for this.
John Tavares brokes #Isles fans hearts when he left for Toronto in July. Thursday he’ll face those fans on LI for the first time. It won’t be a warm reception. Watch #DearJohn today on @News12. @eyesonislesFS @Offside_Tavern @Section_329 @IslesGirl3 @islesfanrico @gothambatman14 pic.twitter.com/8mzvxzaDw9— Kevin Maher (@KMaherNews12) February 26, 2019
Mitch Marner (#16, Right Wing) - Marner is the third forward in the Leafs organization that makes over $10 million per year. He’s in the midst of his fourth consecutive season scoring more than a point per game, but many Leafs fans are not satisfied with his level of production relative to his salary. He’s been held without a point in his last two games, but that comes on the heels of an 8-game goal-scoring streak. Also, he lowkey might have the best acting chops among NHL player — a low bar, but still.
babe wake up new mitch marner intact insurance ad just dropped pic.twitter.com/c5fsRUVOzx— natalie (@willymarner) January 27, 2022
Any Seattle ties?
Assistant coach Dean Chynoweth spent four years as the head coach of the Seattle Thunderbirds back when they played under the very same roof that is currently atop the Climate Pledge Arena. He made it to the Conference Finals once in that time, losing to the eventual WHL champion Kelowna Rockets.
In a more distant fashion, you can make a connection between Auston Matthews and Seattle as well. Matthews was selected by the Everett Silvertips in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft, but opted to play for the USA National Team Development Program instead. That was the same draft that saw the Thunderbirds select Mathew Barzal first overall. Oh, what games we could have seen if Matthews had opted to play in the WHL...
With their first of three 3rd-round picks (#57 overall), the Silvertips are happy to select RW Austin Mathews from Phoenix, Arizona— Everett Silvertips (@WHLsilvertips) May 3, 2012
Odds & Ends
- The Kraken selected Jared McCann in the expansion draft after the Penguins traded McCann to Toronto earlier that week. By giving up a draft pick and a prospect in exchange for McCann, the Leafs were able to keep their NHL roster whole through the expansion draft.
- The Leafs power play unit converts on a whopping 30.5% of their opportunities, nearly double that of the Kraken’s 15.4%.
- Jack Campbell will get the nod for Toronto in net tonight. He’s 8th in the league in save percentage but has struggled recently, allowing 5 goals in four of his last eight starts, and getting yanked after allowing 3 goals in 9 minutes in another of those contests.
- Jared McCann is just one goal away from scoring his 20th goal of the season, which would be a career-best.
- Carson Soucy has a chance to be in the lineup tonight, as he has been skating and participated in the teams’ hardest shot competition on Saturday. Jaden Schwartz and Karson Kuhlman are not there yet.
The puck drops at Climate Pledge Arena at 6pm Pacific tonight. Catch all the action on ROOT Sports NW if you’re in the northwest or on ESPN+ for out-of-market subscribers.