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Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski / USA TODAY Sports

LGD: Shaking off the Rust

Tonight, the Leafs are taking on the Pittsburgh Penguins in Toronto for their second game back from the All-Star Break. Their first game back was yesterday against the Detroit Red Wings and ended in an unfortunate 3-2 overtime loss where the Leafs looked completely flat for most of the game.

They will aim to come with a little bit more energy for this game, but it won’t be easy given that they played last night. The Pengiuns also played last night, defeating the Ottawa Senators 5 to 3 in Pittsburgh.

The Penguins come in with a 28-17-6 record, winning 5 of their last 10 games, and both of their last two. The Leafs, in comparison, are 30-17-3, going 4-5-1 in their last 10.

The Leafs re-activated Tyler Ennis from the injured reserve, but he will not be present in tonight’s match as he was seen skating this morning with the spare defensemen.

Leafs Lines

The Leafs will likely run the same players they did in their previous game, but it wouldn’t be out of the question to see the Leafs shuffle things around as Andreas Johnsson gets more healthy, and after such a miserable performance last night.

For now, we’ll assume the only change is Garret Sparks starting in net, giving Frederik Andersen the night off on the back-to-back game.

LW C RW Forwards
Patrick Marleau
PATRICK MARLEAU

Rating: 73.0#64 LW

Auston Matthews
AUSTON MATTHEWS

Rating: 83.8#6 C

Mitch Marner
MITCH MARNER

Rating: 79.7#10 RW

FL1 Rating
Rating: 78.80#9 FL1
Zach Hyman
ZACH HYMAN

Rating: 72.6#68 LW

John Tavares
JOHN TAVARES

Rating: 81.9#10 C

Kasperi Kapanen
KASPERI KAPANEN

Rating: 74.2#50 RW

FL2 Rating
Rating: 76.24#10 FL2
Connor Brown
CONNOR BROWN

Rating: 71.1#92 LW

Nazem Kadri
NAZEM KADRI

Rating: 79.3#25 C

William Nylander
WILLIAM NYLANDER

Rating: 75.5#36 RW

FL3 Rating
Rating: 75.30#1 FL3
Par Lindholm
PAR LINDHOLM

Rating: 70.9#97 LW

Frederik Gauthier
FREDERIK GAUTHIER

Rating: 68.7#184 C

Andreas Johnsson
ANDREAS JOHNSSON

Rating: 75.0#43 RW

FL4 Rating
Rating: 71.55#11 FL4
DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS Defense
Jake Muzzin
JAKE MUZZIN

Rating: 76.6#16 LD

Morgan Rielly
MORGAN RIELLY

Rating: 80.1#8 RD

DL1 Rating
Rating: 78.37#8 DL1
Jake Gardiner
JAKE GARDINER

Rating: 77.0#12 LD

Nikita Zaitsev
NIKITA ZAITSEV

Rating: 71.8#72 RD

DL2 Rating
Rating: 74.44#8 DL2
Travis Dermott
TRAVIS DERMOTT

Rating: 74.2#34 LD

Ron Hainsey
RON HAINSEY

Rating: 72.9#47 RD

DL3 Rating
Rating: 73.56#5 DL3
GOALIES
Garret Sparks
GARRET SPARKS

Rating: 70.2#46 G1

Frederik Andersen
FREDERIK ANDERSEN

Rating: 76.4#13 G2

Penguins Lines

Given the solid performance last night, it’s not expected that the Penguins will make any changes to their lineup except for Matt Murray getting the start, with Casey DeSmith getting the opportunity in net last night. The Penguins have been without star center Evgeni Malkin due to an Upper Body Injury, so newly acquired centers Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann get an opportunity higher in the lineup.

LW C RW Forwards
Jake Guentzel
JAKE GUENTZEL

Rating: 79.7#10 LW

Sidney Crosby
SIDNEY CROSBY

Rating: 86.9#3 C

Dominik Simon
DOMINIK SIMON

Rating: 72.0#111 RW

FL1 Rating
Rating: 79.56#5 FL1
Bryan Rust
BRYAN RUST

Rating: 76.4#32 LW

Nick Bjugstad
NICK BJUGSTAD

Rating: 73.7#72 C

Phil Kessel
PHIL KESSEL

Rating: 78.4#17 RW

FL2 Rating
Rating: 76.16#11 FL2
Tanner Pearson
TANNER PEARSON

Rating: 72.5#71 LW

Jared McCann
JARED MCCANN

Rating: 72.1#109 C

Patric Hornqvist
PATRIC HORNQVIST

Rating: 77.5#23 RW

FL3 Rating
Rating: 74.06#3 FL3
Garrett Wilson
GARRETT WILSON

Rating: 73.0#62 LW

Teddy Blueger
TEDDY BLUEGER
Matt Cullen
MATT CULLEN

Rating: 70.1#105 RW

FL4 Rating
Rating: 71.56#9 FL4
DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS Defense
Brian Dumoulin
BRIAN DUMOULIN

Rating: 74.8#27 LD

Kris Letang
KRIS LETANG

Rating: 82.6#3 RD

DL1 Rating
Rating: 78.71#4 DL1
Olli Maatta
OLLI MAATTA

Rating: 72.4#66 LD

Juuso Riikola
JUUSO RIIKOLA

Rating: 72.6#62 RD

DL2 Rating
Rating: 72.52#22 DL2
Marcus Pettersson
MARCUS PETTERSSON

Rating: 71.5#85 LD

Jack Johnson
JACK JOHNSON

Rating: 70.1#94 RD

DL3 Rating
Rating: 70.82#24 DL3
GOALIES
Matt Murray
MATT MURRAY

Rating: 73.8#24 G1

Casey DeSmith
CASEY DESMITH

Rating: 74.5#22 G2

Game Preview

The Penguins are a good team and sit in 2nd place in their division, and they will look to add some padding between themselves and the Blue Jackets, and pull ahead of the Capitals who are tied with them in points. For the Leafs, the important thing will be to get the engines going early and have some determination which they lacked last night.

Here are my three keys to the game:

  1. Victimize the 3rd pair
    • The Penguins are unfortunate enough to be playing a 3rd pair of Pettersson and Johnson, one of the worst in the league. The Leafs need to use their depth to capitalize on that.
  2. Eliminate Crosby
    • The Penguins biggest weapon will be the Crosby line, so gluing Rielly and Muzzin to them to try to shut them down will be important
  3. Be on the same page
    • The Leafs were all over the place last night with tons of rust in their wheels. Tonight, the focus should be on making plays as a unit together, as it appears that they forgot how.

The game starts at 7 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on Hockey Night in Canada on CBC.



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