Stars from 2015 draft set to bat­tle in Toronto

Vancouver Sun - - SPORTS - TERRY KOSHAN [email protected]­media.com

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 be the de­cid­ing fac­tor in Mon­day ’s game be­tween the Avalanche (2017-8) and the Leafs (28-14-2).

Ran­ta­nen has 190 points in 210 ca­reer games while Marner has 188 in 203. Each is elec­tri­fy­ing and worth the price of ad­mis­sion.

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 last 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. “Can they be more des­per­ate than us?” Bab­cock said. “I don’t know about that.”

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 goals-against 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 con­tain the big men and the Leafs give them­selves a bet­ter shot.

ROAD CON­SID­ER­A­TION

Colorado 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. 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.

DAVE ABEL

Young Toronto Maple Leafs star Mitch Marner has taken his play to an­other level this sea­son and has 188 points in 203 ca­reer games.

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