LGD: Doggin’ it out in Pittsburgh

It’s time to finally (barbe)cue up this game – the Leafs’ first date with the Penguins since sending them their top scorer over the summer in an attempt to clean things up for the Babcock “culture change” we’re starting to see. For Toronto, it’ll be the second half of a back-to-back, so usually the chances of getting grilled by Sid the Kid and company might be high, but the Penguins haven’t exactly been off to a sizzling start themselves. It’ll be no picnic for either team.

The Leafs

After nabbing their first win of the season last night in Columbus, the Leafs finally have some points on the board and will be looking to get into the mix with the middle of the conference. There’s no time to let last night’s victory simmer. 

It’s super early, of course, but a win tonight would move them to .500 (well, sorta) and put them in the playoff picture. Even with only a handful of games into the season, it’s tough to play ketchup after a rocky road to start, and this team has deserved a little better than their current record. They certainly haven’t been soft-serving up victories to opposing teams. 

LW C RW
James van Riemsdyk 
James van Riemsdyk
Tyler Bozak 
Tyler Bozak
Leo Komarov 
Leo Komarov
Shawn Matthias 
Shawn Matthias
Nazem Kadri 
Nazem Kadri
Brad Boyes 
Brad Boyes
Michael Grabner 
Michael Grabner
Peter Holland 
Peter Holland
P.A. Parenteau 
P.A. Parenteau
Daniel Winnik 
Daniel Winnik
Nick Spaling 
Nick Spaling
Joffrey Lupul 
Joffrey Lupul
Defensive Pairings
Jake Gardiner 
Jake Gardiner
Dion Phaneuf 
Dion Phaneuf
Morgan Rielly 
Morgan Rielly
Matt Hunwick 
Matt Hunwick
Roman Polak 
Roman Polak
Scott Harrington 
Scott Harrington

The Penguins


Games against Pittsburgh always seem to be entertaining when the Leafs are involved, even when they’ve been far apart in the standings over the years. The Pens have been slow as cold high-fructose corn syrup here to start, but obviously the Leafs will still have a lot on their plates. 

The big, big, big (really big) story going into this one is obviously this being the first matchup against Kessel, and it’ll be curious to see how the Leafs go after him. Pittsburgh, like we mentioned, is off to a tough start with only a handful of goals-scored, and Phil himself has only buried the biscuit once and sauced a single apple (candied, of course). 

More concerning for the Penguins is that Sidney Crosby has been without a point so far this season, and they really need to get him going. Fortunately for them, he always plays the Leafs extremely tough and almost tends to have a little more mustard on his shot when he goes up against the blue and white. I’m not sure if matching up against the Leafs presents more of a pressure-cooker atmosphere, but he always tends to toast them. He relishes the opportunity. 

Mayonnaise. 

LW C RW
Evgeni Malkin 
Evgeni Malkin
Sidney Crosby 
Sidney Crosby
Phil Kessel 
Phil Kessel
David Perron 
David Perron
Kevin Porter 
Kevin Porter
Patric Hornqvist 
Patric Hornqvist
Chris Kunitz 
Chris Kunitz
Nick Bonino 
Nick Bonino
Daniel Sprong 
Daniel Sprong
Sergei Plotnikov 
Sergei Plotnikov
Matt Cullen 
Matt Cullen
Bryan Rust 
Bryan Rust
Defensive Pairings
Ian Cole 
Ian Cole
Kris Letang 
Kris Letang
Olli Maatta 
Olli Maatta
Adam Clendening 
Adam Clendening
Brian Dumoulin 
Brian Dumoulin
Ben Lovejoy 
Ben Lovejoy

It looks like Scuderi could be in for Clendening, per TSN, so keep that in mind if you care about Penguins depth defencemen. 

Goaltenders

Bernier and Fleury have both had a rough time getting wins so far this season, but let’s keep in mind they both have the ability to turn a game. This isn’t paper plate target practice. [Like, the paper plates you’d bring to a backyard barbecue or potluck, for example.]

What to look for

  • Bernier to let in a squeaker on the first shot of the game.
  • Phil Kessel chasing his Gatorade with Pepsi, post-hattrick.
  • Jays highlights.
  • Dion smashing Phil through the glass Van Ryn-style, with any luck.

Broadcast

The game goes at 7:00pm EST at Consol Energy Center, and CityTV will be broadcasting here in Canada since the 5-0-0 Habs are on CBC. Go figure.