Young guns from 2015 draft set to do bat­tle

Windsor Star - - SPORTS - TERRY KOSHAN [email protected]­

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:

1. Be de­ter­mined

Leafs coach Mike Babcock scoffed at the idea the Avalanche might be more des­per­ate, con­sid­er­ing they’ve lost nine of 10. Toronto has won just twice in its past six games. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. Penalty peeves

Colorado ar­rives with the du­bi­ous dis­tinc­tion of be­ing short-handed 95 times on the road, eas­ily the most in the NHL. 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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