Preview: Kings at Maple Leafs
While Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares straddled the fence about his availability for Tuesday's game against the visiting Los Angeles Kings, defenseman Jake Muzzin plans to be in the lineup versus his former team. Muzzin will return from a one-game absence with a leg injury to encounter the Kings for the first time since being traded to the Maple Leafs.
"It'll be different," Muzzin said of facing the team with which he spent nearly seven seasons. "I've never (played a former team). Last year we didn't meet up after the trade, so that'll be fun out there seeing some of the guys I played with for a long time." With that in mind, the 30-year-old will now have a chance to test his mettle against defenseman Drew Doughty, captain Anze Kopitar and a few others with whom he won the Stanley Cup in 2014. Doughty's current team appears to be far removed from those glory days, although the former Norris Trophy recipient was able to give Los Angeles a bit of momentum heading into its three-game road trip by scoring in overtime of a 4-3 victory over Chicago. "You count on players like that to provide big moments, both offensively and defensively, and he provided one of those (on Saturday) for us," Kings coach Todd McLellan said.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FS West (Los Angeles), TSN4 (Toronto)
ABOUT THE KINGS (5-9-0): Doughty's goal didn't just tie him with Kopitar and Ontario native Jeff Carter for the team lead, it also gave the defenseman a much-needed boost of confidence. "I haven't been too happy with how I've been playing lately. I wanted to contribute and do something good," Doughty said. Jonathan Quick might echo a similar sentiment given his 2-6-0 record with a 4.55 goals-against average, but the 33-year-old sports a 5-3-1 mark with a 2.51 GAA in nine career meetings with the Maple Leafs.
ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS (7-5-3): Tavares aims to end a seven-game absence due to a fractured finger sustained following a shot from teammate Morgan Rielly on Oct. 22, although the Toronto medical staff ultimately will have the final say. "We made a really good call on Saturday to be patient," the 29-year-old Ontario native said. "And I think there's a good chance it sets me up for (Tuesday) and the rest this week. I'm still going to talk to the medical staff after today, but I feel pretty good. We'll just cover our bases and hopefully that's the case (that I can play)." Tavares collected one goal and three assists in last year's two-game season series for Toronto, which outscored Los Angeles by a 9-2 margin.
1. Rielly is riding a three-game assist streak and has at least a point in four consecutive contests (one goal, three assists).
2. Los Angeles LW Ilya Kovalchuk, who has one goal in his last 10 games, recorded one of his team's two tallies versus Toronto last season.
3. Maple Leafs C Mitch Marner has one goal and four assists during his four-game point streak.
PREDICTION: Maple Leafs 5, Kings 2