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LGD: Kesselmania LXIX

Do you still get excited for Phil Kessel games or has the Matthews, Tavares, Marner, Rielly, Andersen, Kapanen, Marleau, Kadri, (hopefully soon) Nylander era overshadowed Phil and made his era on that you’d sooner forget?

Personally, I fall into the latter, but there is still no doubt that Kessel was the highlight on some really terrible Leafs teams, and deserves our lingering respect for his charity work, and his ability to own Steve Simmons on a regular basis. For fun let’s revisit how the two main pieces of that trade stack up…

GP G A PT AGE
PHIL! 5 4 4 8 31
KAPPY! 7 4 4 8 22

No that’s how you cherry pick stats, baby! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Considering the Leafs also picked up Freddie Andersen with the 1st the Pens included in the deal, and the awfulness of not having Kessel in 2015-16 led to the Leafs landing Auston Matthews, I think we can feel pretty good about this arrangement. I’m sure Kessel isn’t complaining either and enjoys his Stanley Cup rings and limited exposure to Toronto Media (although it’s hard to find a bigger group of CHUDs than the Pens beat writers.)

Anyway, Kessel is back. Some of you care, some of you don’t. It’s cool either way. What’s more important is the Leafs win.

Lineupz

LW C RW Forwards
Patrick Marleau
PATRICK MARLEAU

Rating: 74.5#40 LW

Auston Matthews
AUSTON MATTHEWS

Rating: 86.8#4 C

Kasperi Kapanen
KASPERI KAPANEN

Rating: 73.2#58 RW

FL1 Rating
Rating: 78.14#15 FL1
Zach Hyman
ZACH HYMAN

Rating: 72.5#74 LW

John Tavares
JOHN TAVARES

Rating: 82.0#10 C

Mitch Marner
MITCH MARNER

Rating: 78.6#27 RW

FL2 Rating
Rating: 77.70#3 FL2
Par Lindholm
PAR LINDHOLM

Rating: 73.4#77 LW

Nazem Kadri
NAZEM KADRI

Rating: 76.7#33 C

Connor Brown
CONNOR BROWN

Rating: 70.4#95 RW

FL3 Rating
Rating: 73.50#5 FL3
Andreas Johnsson
ANDREAS JOHNSSON

Rating: 73.4#54 LW

Frederik Gauthier
FREDERIK GAUTHIER

Rating: 70.2#167 C

Josh Leivo
JOSH LEIVO

Rating: 73.2#55 RW

FL4 Rating
Rating: 72.28#6 FL4
DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS Defense
Morgan Rielly
MORGAN RIELLY

Rating: 80.0#4 LD

Ron Hainsey
RON HAINSEY

Rating: 73.8#38 RD

DL1 Rating
Rating: 76.86#10 DL1
Jake Gardiner
JAKE GARDINER

Rating: 75.9#20 LD

Nikita Zaitsev
NIKITA ZAITSEV

Rating: 70.7#82 RD

DL2 Rating
Rating: 73.28#17 DL2
Travis Dermott
TRAVIS DERMOTT

Rating: 73.4#43 LD

Igor Ozhiganov
IGOR OZHIGANOV

Rating: 72.6#50 RD

DL3 Rating
Rating: 73.02#5 DL3

I’m not ready to be upset about the lack of Justin Holl in the lineup. I’d just like to see Justin Holl at some point. I think Holl likely understands and appreciates his situation more than Carrick, Corrado, and Leivo before him. As well as he’s a bit older and reserve player is a reasonable ceiling for him to achieve. I feel like this was extremely close to complaining about a lineup that does nothing but win, so I’m gonna shut it down, and save my Hainsey and Zaitsev feelings for another day.
Update:

I’d rather see Andreas Johnsson stay in, but again, I’m not ready to be angry about any of this.

LW C RW Forwards
Jake Guentzel
JAKE GUENTZEL

Rating: 79.1#14 LW

Sidney Crosby
SIDNEY CROSBY

Rating: 86.3#5 C

Bryan Rust
BRYAN RUST

Rating: 73.0#60 RW

FL1 Rating
Rating: 79.47#9 FL1
Carl Hagelin
CARL HAGELIN

Rating: 71.8#90 LW

Evgeni Malkin
EVGENI MALKIN

Rating: 85.1#6 C

Phil Kessel
PHIL KESSEL

Rating: 79.2#8 RW

FL2 Rating
Rating: 78.71#1 FL2
Dominik Simon
DOMINIK SIMON

Rating: 71.0#102 LW

Derick Brassard
DERICK BRASSARD

Rating: 73.2#85 C

Patric Hornqvist
PATRIC HORNQVIST

Rating: 77.4#21 RW

FL3 Rating
Rating: 73.87#2 FL3
Daniel Sprong
DANIEL SPRONG

Rating: 75.2#34 LW

Matt Cullen
MATT CULLEN

Rating: 68.7#186 C

Riley Sheahan
RILEY SHEAHAN

Rating: 69.6#104 RW

FL4 Rating
Rating: 71.17#18 FL4
DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS Defense
Brian Dumoulin
BRIAN DUMOULIN

Rating: 74.3#32 LD

Kris Letang
KRIS LETANG

Rating: 81.6#4 RD

DL1 Rating
Rating: 77.97#7 DL1
Olli Maatta
OLLI MAATTA

Rating: 72.5#60 LD

Jamie Oleksiak
JAMIE OLEKSIAK

Rating: 71.3#73 RD

DL2 Rating
Rating: 71.92#21 DL2
Jack Johnson
JACK JOHNSON

Rating: 71.0#94 LD

Juuso Riikola
JUUSO RIIKOLA

Rating: 72.5#62 RD

DL3 Rating
Rating: 71.75#13 DL3

Does this lineup not look exactly like what the Leafs lineup will look like in 5 or 6 years? (okay, maybe longer). The blueline is equally awful to the Leafs, but Toronto can at least take comfort in not having Jack Johnson, who I think is legitimately the closest comparable in the league to Nikita Zaitsev, but we’re not ready to admit that yet. Anyways, it looks like another situation where these teams should combine for 100 goals tonight, so expect it to end 2-1.

Starting Goaltenders

It looks like the status of Andersen’s knee has been upgraded to good enough, so he’ll go for the Leafs tonight. Though if he’s still not at 100% it probably wouldn’t be the end of the world if the Leafs platooned him and Sparks for the next little while.

Matt Murray may be in net for the Penguins. Remember when he was going to be really good? It turns out he’s just really good at getting hurt. Murray says he’s ready to go if needed, but I can’t imagine why the Penguins would rush him back from a concussion. I get not being excited to start Casey DeSmith against a team that will give him the beating he deserves, but maybe don’t ruin your starter in October. That’s good advice for both of these teams.

Anyways, the game starts at 7:00 PM ET, and Ontario folks can see the game on TSN 4.



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