The Toronto Maple Leafs need the All-Star break more than just about anyone. They’ve lost seven of their last 10 games, falling well behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for the Atlantic Division lead. Toronto’s last game before the break will be Wednesday at home versus the Washington Capitals, beginning at 7:30 PM ET on Sportsnet.
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Things started going sour for the Maple Leafs (29-17-2) in early December, after they signed hold-out centre William Nylander to a new contract. Nylander has struggled since his debut, scoring just one goal and three assists in 20 games while earning himself a demotion to Toronto’s fourth line. The Leafs are 9-9-2 this year with Nylander on the ice.
Washington (27-16-5) have played a bit better than they did during the 2017-18 regular season; they’re third in the Metropolitan Division with 59 points, one fewer than the Maple Leafs, although Toronto have the superior goal differential at plus-31 to plus-13 for the defending Stanley Cup champions. LW Alex Ovechkin leads the NHL with 33 goals, but the Capitals don’t have strong puck possession stats, and they’re worst in the league in face-offs at 46.4%. The Leafs are second in that department at 52.5%.
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