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LGD: Yes, Satan?

After a huge effort in Columbus last night to knock off the 100-point Blue Jackets, the visualization of these Leafs in the playoffs finally became very real. Now there’s plenty of talk about a first-round matchup with the Senators in a new Battle of Ontario, and the expectation of holding down that third spot in the Atlantic division. The hype is at its highest point all season, and rightly so.

But there’s still work to do, and games on the schedule that present the perfect trap for teams getting too far ahead of themselves. One of those tests will be tonight, when the Leafs head home on the latter half of this back-to-back and face the Devils, a club that’s now at the very bottom of the conference.

The Leafs

Defensive Pairings
Morgan Rielly
Morgan Rielly
Connor Carrick
Connor Carrick
Jake Gardiner
Jake Gardiner
Nikita Zaitsev
Nikita Zaitsev
Matt Hunwick
Matt Hunwick
Alexey Marchenko
Alexey Marchenko

It was just announced that Polak has been suspended for two games for his hit-from-behind last night, so he’s out. Marchenko will get the go-ahead in his place. Also, Leivo (finally) draws in, as Eric Fehr’s season with the Leafs lasts exactly one game due to him taking a shot to the hand last night.

The Devils

Defensive Pairings
Andy Greene
Andy Greene
Ben Lovejoy
Ben Lovejoy
Jon Merrill
Jon Merrill
Steven Santini
Steven Santini
John Moore
John Moore
Damon Severson
Damon Severson

This lineup is pretty gross overall, but obviously there are some players – notably Hall – that can hurt the Leafs offensively if they’re not prepared. That said, the Devils are second-worst in the league from a puck possession standpoint, so Toronto’s speed and cycle game should be nicely on display if they’re not tired.

Starting Goaltenders

With Andersen getting the win in Columbus last night, McElhinney (0.922 sv%) will go for the Leafs this evening. At the other end will be Keith Kinkaid (0.913).

Numbers

TOR NJD
Points-Percentage  0.576  0.458
Powerplay  23.8% (2nd)  18.6% (18th)
Penalty Kill  83.4% (9th)  80.5% (18th)
Score-adjusted Corsi  51.0% (12th)  46.1% (29th)

What to Watch Out For

Auston Matthews has somewhat quietly broken out of his slump with a point in each of his last three games, so hopefully he’s heating up again at the right time. Meanwhile, Nylander just tied the Leafs’ rookie record with his own nine game streak that continued last night with that partial-break snipe. Let the good times roll.

Game goes at 7:30 EST at the ACC, with the local broadcast on Sportsnet-Ontario.

  • The Russian Rocket

    I hope Nylander breaks the rookie scoring streak tonight. It’d be great to see him etch his name in the books after all of that ‘trade Nylander’ crap from TSN

  • FlareKnight

    Hopefully we get a big night from the team. This is a game they’ve got to win with the schedule ahead of them.

    Suck for Fehr. Had a really good first impression and sadly now his season is done. Good chance for Leivo and nice to get him back in. Changes the dyanmic of the fourth line, adding scoring touch.

    And obviously hoping the rookies continue to play great for this one.