LGD: Curtain Call

I took some heat in my last LGD for saying I was excited for the preseason to end, but this time I feel like I can say that again without much argument.  It’s been a lengthy and certainly at times interesting preseason, but the Leafs have hit an exhibition skid, most of the jobs seem to be earned, and it’s just time to get onto some meaningful hockey.  So let’s all celebrate what this pre-game represents: the end of the preseason, and the start of an 82-game rollercoaster.

I don’t have much to say to hype you up for this game.  It’s of some importance to the likes of Mark Arcobello and Scott Harrington who appear to be fighting for the last couple of spots on the team.  Other than that there’s not a whole lot I can tell you – we seem to have learned about as much as we’re going to from the preseason, and thankfully just four days from now(!) the Leafs kick off a new NHL season hosting their bitter rivals, the Montreal Canadiens.

THE LEAFS

No confirmation yet on what the lines for the team will be tonight.  The best that we’ve got to off of is via Leafs reporter Paul Hendricks, who threw out some unofficial “armchair coach” lines for the game tonight:

Again, not gonna read too much into this since it’s far from official, but it’ll be interesting to see how some of these guys do tonight.  I mean, we seem to have a pretty strong sense of who is going to be on the team, but what we don’t know is who is going to play where.  For the likes of Lupul, Matthias, Boyes, Spaling, Parenteau, Hunwick, and Marincin, tonight could play an important part in determining where in the lineup they play on opening night.  Or if they play on opening night at all.

THE RED WINGS

The Leafs are dressing a veteran lineup to give the Leafs coaching staff one more look at what they’ve got.  That makes a good deal of sense since it’s a new braintrust with a new group that really isn’t sure what they have in their roster yet.

That’s not the case with the Red Wings.  Yeah, Jeff Blashill is a new head coach, but he’s not new to the organization, and their staff seems to feel pretty comfortable with what they have going into the opening week of the season, so they’ll be dressing a squeaker lineup tonight so as to keep the veterans healthy and well-rested ahead of the long grind to come.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Again, just keep an eye on, like, everybody.  We’re all a little tired of the preseason, and I’m not expecting a heated performance from the Leafs tonight, but it is important for them in the sense that tonight could help determine where they end up playing in the lineup to start the season.  And for the likes of Arcobello and Harrington, it could even determine whether or not they make the team.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy the hockey.  You can expect the team to make some cuts in the next day or two, and then on Wednesday, the real journey begins.