Sports Hockey

Game Day: Devils at Maple Leafs

By Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun

New Jersey defenceman Damon Severson signed a six-year contract last month. He pairs with captain Andy Greene. (JULIO CORTEZ/AP files)

New Jersey defenceman Damon Severson signed a six-year contract last month. He pairs with captain Andy Greene. (JULIO CORTEZ/AP files)

NEW JERSEY DEVILS at TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., Air Canada Centre

TV: Sportsnet; Radio: 590 AM



FIVE KEYS TO THE GAME


Pedal to the metal
Once the Leafs found their footing against the Blackhawks on Monday, the forecheck was relentless, giving the Chicago blue-line group fits. It’s probable that Devils defencemen Andy Greene and Damon Severson will get the matchup with the Auston Matthews line, which could be cause for a long night for the New Jersey duo.

Sin bin sins
The Leafs have been called for 16 minors — tied for second-most in the NHL through games on Monday. Mike Babcock has full respect for his penalty killers, but he would love to use them less often. Though it’s a small sample size, the Devils are clicking on the power play, scoring three goals on eight chances.

Stick to the plan
The Leafs get wins when they play to Babcock’s systems well, a fact that’s not lost on the Devils. “Any team coached by Babcock is going to be well-structured,” New Jersey forward Taylor Hall said. “The young guys they have, they really push the pace. It’s a good test for us.”
 
Face the facts
The Leafs have been sharp in the faceoff circle, winning 58.8% of draws through three games, a percentage that was second-highest in the league. Nazem Kadri (59.5%) and Tyler Bozak (57.7%) have been leading the way. The Devils are a shade over 50% at the dot.

Lineup woes
It’s possible the Devils use 11 forwards and seven defencemen, as they did in a 6-2 win in Buffalo on Monday. Decisions on forwards Drew Stafford and Kyle Palmieri, each suffering from a lower-body injury, will be made on Wednesday. Both skated on Tuesday.


 

THE BIG MATCHUP

Nico Hischier vs. Auston Matthews

It’s an early showdown between Hischier, the No. 1 pick in 2017 by the Devils, and Matthews, the No. 1 pick in 2016 by the Maple Leafs. While it’s unlikely Hischier will have any shifts against Matthews, you can bet the 18-year-old native of Switzerland will put forth the effort to score his first NHL goal. “I feel like they are in the situation we were in last year,” Matthews said. “They drafted pretty well.”


 

SPECIAL TEAMS

LEAFS -- PP 37.5% (T-1st), PK 82.3% (18th)
DEVILS -- PP 37.5% (T-1st), PK 90.0% (T-8th)
 


SICK BAY

LEAFS -- D Connor Carrick (upper body).
DEVILS --F Drew Stafford (lower body), F Kyle Palmieri (lower body), C Travis Zajac (pectoral), C Brian Boyle (cancer).