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Andrew Forbes The Hockey Writers

Published on Sunday, December 11, 2016





Preview: Leafs’ Call on Bibeau For NHL Debut

A night after the Toronto Maple Leafs grabbed a big two points in Boston, they will get set to host a hungry Colorado Avalanche team coming off a 10-1 thumping at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.

Mike Babcock, Maple Leafs, Leafs Waiting for Compensation, NHL

Mike Babcock’s point system could fall right on track with a win over the Avalanche on Sunday. (Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)

Colorado’s had a tough go as of late losing seven of their last eight games and being out scored 36-18 over that span. The Leafs on the other hand have been relatively inconsistent in their results. They’ve won three of the last six – including losses to Calgary, Vancouver and Minnesota.

It’ll be the first time these two teams meet this season with the Leafs holding a slight edge when it comes to overall standing. The Leafs find themselves in 25th with 11 wins in their first 26 games while the Avs are dead last with 10 wins and 21 points in their first 26 games.

The Leafs will turn to yet another rookie in the hopes that he can lead them to back-to-back victories for the first time this season. Antoine Bibeau is expected to make his NHL debut tonight for the Leafs who could be in tough against Colorado.

Following their shellacking at the hands of the Canadiens, the Avs’ captain came out with some strong words regarding his team’s effort.

“Disappointing probably doesn’t even do it justice either,” said Gabriel Landeskog according to an article by Cory Wilkins. “It was embarrassing. We got our ass whooped tonight.”

The fortunate part of it all is that the Avs will be back on the ice tonight with an opportunity to wash that disappointment from their minds. While Bibeau has good numbers with the Marlies this season, his first start with the Leafs will be filled with angst, excitement and comes against a team pushing for a win.

Colorado Avalanche at Toronto Maple Leafs

Air Canada Centre – 7:00 p.m. EST

Broadcast channels – Sportsnet and ALT

2016-17 Season Series: First meeting this season

Colorado Avalanche – 10-15-1 – 21 Points

Road Record: 6-7-0

Hot Players: Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Matt Duchene

Key Injuries: Erik Johnson

Projected Lines:


Rene Bourque-Nathan MacKinnon-Blake Comeau

Gabriel Landeskog-Carl Soderberg-Mikhail Grigorenko

Matt Duchene-John Mitchell-Mikko Rantanen

Andreas Martinsen-Joe Colborne-Jarome Iginla


Nikita Zadorov-Tyson Barrie

Patrick Wiercioch-Fedor Tyutin

Francois Beauchemin-Cody Goloubef


Semyon Varlamov

Toronto Maple Leafs – 11-10-5 – 27 Points

Home Record: 8-4-0

Hot Players: Auston Matthews, Tyler Bozak and Zach Hyman

Key Injuries: Joffrey Lupul, Martin Marincin

Projected Lines:


Leo Komarov-Nazem Kadri-Nikita Soshnikov

James van Riemsdyk-Tyler Bozak-Mitch Marner

Zach Hyman-Auston Matthews-William Nylander

Matt Martin-Ben Smith-Connor Brown


Morgan Rielly-Nikita Zaitsev

Jake Gardiner-Connor Carrick

Matt Hunwick-Roman Polak


Antoine Bibeau

Game Notes

1)Avs’ Duchene has three goals and six points in nine career games against Toronto – including a goal and four points in five games at the Air Canada Centre.

2)While Frederik Andersen played last night and won’t get the start, it’s curious that the Leafs wouldn’t give the veteran a chance to play considering his numbers against Colorado. In two career games against the Avs, he has a goals against average of 2.00 and a .917 save percentage. Even with those numbers, Bibeau is expected to get the start for Toronto.

Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs, NHL

Auston Matthews continues to put the puck in the net as he seems to be finding his stride in the NHL. (Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports)

3)With his goal last night, Auston Matthews has 12 goals and 20 points in 26 games and sits second on the team in scoring.

4)Maple Leafs’ rookies have combined for 35 goals and 81 points so far this season. That total is by far the most combined by any team’s rookies.

5)Marner is tied for third on the Leafs in scoring with Tyler Bozak (19). However, he hasn’t been able to put the puck in the net in eight straight games and comes into Sunday’s game with no points in his last four.

If the Leafs are able to pull out another victory against the Avs on Sunday, it will give them four points in just two games of their sixth five-game segment. They’ll have three more games to come up with the two points they need to match Babcock’s six-point goal. Another win will give the Leafs the opportunity to climb back into the playoff picture not just in the wild card race, but in the divisional race as well.


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