Young guns from 2015 draft set to do bat­tle

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - SPORTS - TERRY KOSHAN

Taken six picks apart in 2015, Colorado’s Mikko Ran­ta­nen (No. 10) and Toronto’s Mitch Marner (No. 4) are two top-notch pieces of a high-end draft that in­cluded a cou­ple of guys named Con­nor Mcdavid and Jack Eichel.

Marner and Ran­ta­nen each could take Mon­day’s game be­tween the Avalanche (20-17-8) and the Leafs (28-14-2) un­der con­trol and be the de­cid­ing fac­tor.

Ran­ta­nen has 190 points in 210 ca­reer games while Marner has 188 in 203. Each is elec­tri­fy­ing and worth the price printed on any ticket.

Here are five things to watch for when the two tan­gle Mon­day at Sco­tia­bank Arena:


Be De­ter­mined

Leafs coach Mike Bab­cock scoffed at the idea the Avalanche might be more des­per­ate, con­sid­er­ing they’ve lost nine of their past 10. Toronto has won just twice in its past six games, fail­ing mostly to put to­gether a full 60 min­utes. Colorado is in a tight wild card race in the West, while the Leafs have Bos­ton nip­ping at their heels for sec­ond in the At­lantic Divi­sion.


No Rust Here?

Fred­erik An­der­sen has been a spec­ta­tor since Dec. 22, but has prac­tised a hand­ful of times in com­ing back from a groin in­jury. The Leafs goal­tender didn’t think he would have much catch­ing up to do, never mind he’ll also have to get past a brief ill­ness. “I think once I get my en­ergy back from this flu, I’m sure I will feel re­ally re­freshed and so hope­fully that is some­thing that’s go­ing to ben­e­fit us,” An­der­sen said. Against Colorado in his ca­reer, An­der­sen is 2-2-0 with a .938 save per­cent­age and a 1.77 goal­sagainst av­er­age.


Stop the Top

Colorado’s No. 1 line of Nathan Mackin­non be­tween Gabriel Lan­deskog and Ran­ta­nen is among the most dan­ger­ous in hockey, with Ran­ta­nen and Mackin­non in the top five in NHL scor­ing through Satur­day. The Avs aren’t deep, so if they con­tain the big men, the Leafs give them­selves a bet­ter shot.


Road Con­sid­er­a­tion

The Avalanche has been a pro­lific club on the road, scor­ing 86 goals in 25 games — the most in the NHL be­fore games on Sun­day. Colorado also has given up 86 on the road, and though the Leafs have lit­tle in­ter­est in get­ting in a track meet, they have the horses to keep pace if the game veers that way. The Leafs have scored 74 goals and given up 59 in 23 home games. Toronto is 6-12-1 when the op­po­nent scores first; Colorado is 6-14-6.


Penalty For Your Thoughts

Leafs Na­tion feels some frus­tra­tion when the topic of penal­ties arises, but some pos­i­tive feel­ings could de­velop with the Avs in town. Colorado ar­rives with the du­bi­ous dis­tinc­tion of be­ing short-handed 95 times on the road, eas­ily the most in the NHL. Still, Toronto has had just 55 power plays at home, one more than the Dal­las Stars, who have the fewest.

Mitch Marner

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