Kadri still look­ing for first marker

Windsor Star - - SPORTS - TERRY KOSHAN Tkoshan@post­media.com

Five games in and Toronto Maple Leafs cen­tre Nazem Kadri, com­ing off back-to­back 32-goal sea­sons, re­mains in search of his first goal this sea­son. Kadri will likely go up against Lars Eller at even strength when Toronto matches up against the de­fend­ing Stan­ley Cup cham­pion Cap­i­tals in Wash­ing­ton on Satur­day night. Kadri might want to for­get he’s had just four goals in 20 ca­reer games against Wash­ing­ton. Eller can get un­der an op­po­nent’s skin.

Here are five things to watch for:

1. Lock it down

As Aus­ton Matthews and Mor­gan Rielly at­tempt to make fur­ther in­roads in the NHL record book, the Leafs can’t get away from them­selves like they did in De­troit. It’s one thing to al­low a sub-par Red Wings team to con­trol the game in the fi­nal 20 min­utes and win, it’s an­other to al­low the dan­ger­ous and ex­pe­ri­enced Cap­i­tals, at any point in the game, the same free­dom.

2. Play with fire

Only seven teams have been short-handed more of­ten than Wash­ing­ton, which has been down 15 times. Caps penalty killers have been good on 12 of those short-handed sit­u­a­tions. But as we’ve seen, the Leafs don’t need nu­mer­ous chances to score on power plays, mak­ing good on 50 per cent of their op­por­tu­ni­ties.

3. Work the cir­cle

When he’s not scor­ing, Matthews is win­ning face­offs, clip­ping along at a Leafs-high 55.5 per cent (good for 29th in the NHL). The Caps are car­ry­ing just a 43 per cent in Corsi, and part of the rea­son is their abysmal show­ing at the dot, sit­ting 30th at 42 per cent. The Leafs are a shade over 50 per cent in Corsi.

4. On the spot

John Tavares’ hot start with the Leafs — six goals and four as­sists in five games — has been over­shad­owed, if only a bit, by the pro­duc­tion of Matthews and Rielly. It’s worth not­ing that for years on an in­fe­rior New York Is­landers team, Tavares did fine against Wash­ing­ton, record­ing 30 points (15 goals and 15 as­sists) in 34 games.

5. Caps crunched

The Cap­i­tals were beaten 6-0 by the Dev­ils in New Jer­sey on Thurs­day, and it served as a re­minder that teams will get up for games against the de­fend­ing Cup champs.

“Years past, I re­mem­ber play­ing games against the team that won (the Cup) and us­ing it as a mea­sur­ing stick,” de­fence­man Matt Niska­nen said. “We’ll have to learn how to deal with that.”

Nazem Kadri

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