The Toronto Maple Leafs will be without one of their top scorers tonight when they host San Jose, as center Nazem Kadri (7G, 10A) will miss the game following the death of his grandfather.
Kadri’s absence won’t make things any easier for a Leafs team that finished November with a 4-6-3 record and hasn’t won in its last four.
On top of that, here’s what’s coming up in the next couple of weeks:
To say Toronto’s poor November came as a surprise would, of course, be false. The Leafs have had puck-possession issues all season. In October, they were able to get by with excellent goaltending, special teams and shooting. But that was a way of winning that was unlikely to continue.
Almost amazingly, the Leafs have been out-shot in 23 of their 27 games, yet they’ve still managed to win 14. Only the Buffalo Sabres have been out-possessed more than Toronto, per Extra Skater.
“We’ve been giving up a lot of shots, and you can’t have luck on your side all season,” Toronto goalie Jonathan Bernier said recently.
And the Leafs will need more than luck against the teams they’ll be playing shortly. Here are the top 10 teams in a possession statistic called Fenwick (unblocked shot attempts) with the score close:
The Leafs play six of those teams in their next eight games.
Oh, and guess who’s 11th on the list — that would be Dallas, which Toronto hosts Thursday.
The Leafs (14-10-3) currently hold down the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, four points up on New Jersey and five on Philadelphia.