Tonight Leafs fans join Sabres fans in rooting for a Toronto
win. The Sabres with their league worst goal differential (-18) are coming off
an upset of the Sharks and the Leafs are doing their best to forget a shelling
at the hands of the Chara-less (but still very good) Bruins.
The Leafs have made some significant changes by shuffling
their right wingers around. Kessel moves to the Kadri line, Winnik joins
Santorelli and Komarov, while Clarkson will be playing with Bozak. If the Leafs
could pull Ryan Hollweg out of retirement to play with Bozak and Clarkson that
might be the most hated Leafs line of all time, but somehow I remain optimistic
about the changes. I think it’s because James van Riemsdyk is a very good
The line changes and the fallout from the Bruins game are
the big story for the Leafs, as is the demotion of Stuart Percy, who didn’t
look out of place on the Leafs, but for his own good, has been given more time
to play significant minutes with the Marlies. With the Leafs now dressing a
full fourth line, their usage will again be worth monitoring, and against
Buffalo you’d hope that Carlyle would have some comfort in playing them.
Initially I have to say I’m really excited for these lines,
and hope they won’t be reverted to Leafs Classic 10 minutes into the game. As
much as I’d like to make fun of the Bozak/Clarkson pairing, I think that van
Riemsdyk and Bozak are players that could potentially help Clarkson generate
some additional offense and like the idea of the two wingers crowding the net.
Ideally Bozak’s role on this line would be to move the puck to the point and
set up a shot that JvR and Clarkson can pounce on in front.
The Santorelli line looks like a very reasonable line to
control opposition scoring lines, and it’s also nice to see defensive pairings
that have the potential to stay intact.
So far the Sabres have been shut out 3 times in 9 games, so
they really are spectacularly bad. This doesn’t bode well for the Leafs who
should not be thrilled about having Jack Eichel or Connor McDavid in their
division for the next 20 years. Buffalo has a few young players worth watching tonight
in Sam Reinhart, Zegmus Girgensons, Rasmus Ristolainen, and Cody Hodgson, but
you can bet that Ted Nolan is doing everything he can to not actually give them
ice time. All things considered a loss to the Sabres would be unforgivable.
Projected Lines via Daily
What to Watch For
- Randy Carlyle going up against someone he can
actually out coach
- How many times you check to see if there is a
better game on another channel
- Will the new lines stick or will we see Kessel
and Bozak reunited before the end of the first
- Brian Gionta still plays in the NHL?
- Look at how awful Josh Gorges is and be thankful
that bullet was dodged.
- Speaking of awful, keep a close eye on Chris
Stewart and realize that every Chris Stewart trade proposal you’ve ever read was
- The “big game from the Toronto area raised
player” narrative being attached to Matt Moulson