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Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

LGD: Show Tavares What He’s Missing

After a brief respite from Leafs hockey for the All-Star Break, we’re finally back at it. Tonight the Leafs take on the Islanders, who played (and lost) last night against the Panthers. I’m inclined to be optimistic about this one, folks — especially since the Leafs should be (in theory) rested, refreshed, and ready to go. Also, the lineup? For the circumstances (and by “circumstances” I mean “Mo Rielly is still hurt”), this is what dreams are made of.

Leafs Lines

LOOK AT THIS! LOOK AT THESE! HOLY SH*T!!

Especially of note: Nikita Zaitsev is back and none of Borgman, Carrick, or Dermott came out of the lineup. That’s… That’s incredible. Instead, Polak is the healthy scratch and all of Leafs Twitter rejoiced. Seriously, imagine Polak trying to deal with Beauvillier and Barzal. For now, with Rielly out, this is the very best we could hope for.

Dermott has done a really nice job stepping up for the team, and I will always take Carrick over Polak, so. Defense looking pretty sharp.

As far as the forward lines go, on a sentimental level it’s a bummer that Matt Martin isn’t getting to play against his former team. On a cognitive level… This is good. This is so good. That fourth line is going to be a pain to play against, and while Kapanen has top-six skill, his speed and tenacity suits him well in a bottom-six role while he’s there. Kapanen in the lineup also means we get to see him on the kill. Kapanen got some time on the kill in Dallas, and let me tell you: He and Connor Brown shutting down the Stars’ lethal power play was a joy to watch.

This lineup is more of less what most of us have been begging for all season so let’s hope it pans out.

Islanders Lines

So the Leafs are missing Morgan Rielly, and everyone can agree that sucks for the Leafs. Other than that, though, they’re doing pretty good health-wise. The Isles, on the other hand, are missing a few bodies.

Defensemen Calvin De Haan and Johnny Boychuk are out, as is Leafs legend Nikolai Kulemin. Andrew Ladd was just activated off IR, so it’s looking likely that he makes his return tonight.

Nick Leddy’s having himself a nice, productive season but the rest of the Isles’ defense corps aren’t much to speak of. And in terms of forward depth, those top two lines can really do some damage, but beyond that? Yeah.

In theory, the Leafs should definitely have the upper hand.

Starting Goalies

With Jaroslav Halak having gone yesterday against the Panthers, we’ll probably see Thomas Greiss in net. Greiss hasn’t been having the best year (cringing at that .886 SV% in 21 games played!!) but that number is an anomaly in a pretty solid career.

The Leafs, meanwhile, will be going with starter Frederik Andersen. Andersen hasn’t played since January 24, so he should be nice and well-rested for tonight’s start. He was very good in that game against the Hawks, making 34 of 36 saves and coming away with a win. Hopefully he won’t have to be that busy tonight, but even if he is, he should be up to the task.

Bits and Pieces

  • John Tavares, impending free agent. *eyes emoji* In all seriousness, the Leafs don’t really need John Tavares, you know? And they wouldn’t be able to afford him — Mitch Marner and William Nylander are both due paydays. It’s fun to speculate, though.
  • It’ll be interesting to see how Zaitsev looks in his return.
  • That Isles second line (sometimes referred to as the Chiarelli line) is really fun and dynamic and I’m really, really looking forward to watching them in action.

LGD BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE PINT

Pint LGD

Make the Pint your home for all things game day. We give away a free pound of wings during every game either home or away. 4.40$ mugs of Bud and Bud Lights.


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