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Maple Leafs Pre-game #4: 5 Things to watch for against St. Louis

Stanley Cup Champion Tyler Bozak returns to Toronto tonight.

I could have said Stanley Cup Champion Alex Steen or Stanley Cup Champion Carl Gunnarsson and it would have resulted in less vomit in my mouth, but here we are, embracing the darkest timeline.

Fun fact: ALL THE OFFENSE “The total has gone OVER in 4 of Toronto’s last 5 games.” – From our friends at OddsShark.com

Lineup

LW C RW Forwards
Kasperi Kapanen
KASPERI KAPANEN

Rating: 72.8#70 LW

John Tavares
JOHN TAVARES

Rating: 79.3#10 C

Mitch Marner
MITCH MARNER

Rating: 78.6#5 RW

FL1 Rating
Rating: 76.94#12 FL1
Andreas Johnsson
ANDREAS JOHNSSON

Rating: 73.5#52 LW

Auston Matthews
AUSTON MATTHEWS

Rating: 81.3#5 C

William Nylander
WILLIAM NYLANDER

Rating: 73.7#37 RW

FL2 Rating
Rating: 76.15#3 FL2
Ilya Mikheyev
ILYA MIKHEYEV

Rating: 74.2#38 LW

Alexander Kerfoot
ALEXANDER KERFOOT

Rating: 71.9#108 C

Trevor Moore
TREVOR MOORE

Rating: 72.2#65 RW

FL3 Rating
Rating: 72.74#8 FL3
Dmytro Timashov
DMYTRO TIMASHOV

Rating: 73.7#44 LW

Nick Shore
NICK SHORE

Rating: 70.9#133 C

Frederik Gauthier
FREDERIK GAUTHIER

Rating: 69.5#106 RW

FL4 Rating
Rating: 71.39#11 FL4
DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS Defense
Morgan Rielly
MORGAN RIELLY

Rating: 77.8#4 LD

Cody Ceci
CODY CECI

Rating: 71.9#78 RD

DL1 Rating
Rating: 74.82#20 DL1
Jake Muzzin
JAKE MUZZIN

Rating: 74.9#21 LD

Tyson Barrie
TYSON BARRIE

Rating: 77.6#9 RD

DL2 Rating
Rating: 76.27#2 DL2
Rasmus Sandin
RASMUS SANDIN

Rating: 74.1#40 LD

Martin Marincin
MARTIN MARINCIN

Rating: 72.4#70 RD

DL3 Rating
Rating: 73.23#11 DL3
LW C RW Forwards
Jaden Schwartz
JADEN SCHWARTZ

Rating: 77.2#15 LW

Brayden Schenn
BRAYDEN SCHENN

Rating: 74.5#46 C

Vladimir Tarasenko
VLADIMIR TARASENKO

Rating: 80.2#4 RW

FL1 Rating
Rating: 77.30#9 FL1
Sammy Blais
SAMMY BLAIS

Rating: 71.5#101 LW

Ryan O'Reilly
RYAN O’REILLY

Rating: 76.6#28 C

David Perron
DAVID PERRON

Rating: 75.5#29 RW

FL2 Rating
Rating: 74.56#9 FL2
Robby Fabbri
ROBBY FABBRI

Rating: 70.9#136 LW

Tyler Bozak
TYLER BOZAK

Rating: 73.0#78 C

Zach Sanford
ZACH SANFORD

Rating: 70.7#92 RW

FL3 Rating
Rating: 71.53#21 FL3
Ivan Barbashev
IVAN BARBASHEV

Rating: 71.9#94 LW

Oskar Sundqvist
OSKAR SUNDQVIST

Rating: 72.2#103 C

Alex Steen
ALEX STEEN

Rating: 71.8#97 RW

FL4 Rating
Rating: 71.94#6 FL4
DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS Defense
Carl Gunnarsson
CARL GUNNARSSON

Rating: 72.8#72 LD

Alex Pietrangelo
ALEX PIETRANGELO

Rating: 78.7#3 RD

DL1 Rating
Rating: 75.73#10 DL1
Jay Bouwmeester
JAY BOUWMEESTER

Rating: 73.4#56 LD

Colton Parayko
COLTON PARAYKO

Rating: 77.1#15 RD

DL2 Rating
Rating: 75.27#3 DL2
Vince Dunn
VINCE DUNN

Rating: 76.3#11 LD

Justin Faulk
JUSTIN FAULK

Rating: 77.3#12 RD

DL3 Rating
Rating: 76.81#1 DL3

Yep. That’s $6.5M defenseman Justin Faulk on the third pairing. *Looks at those pairings again* Oh crap, they have really good defense and it’s probably the last thing I should make fun of.

Now for the five things…

1. Thank freakin’ God that Andersen is back in net

I really wanted to believe in Hutchinson, and I know I’m also very prone to writing off backup goaltenders quickly, but I did not enjoy watching Hutchinson on Saturday night and would be quite happy to never see him in the Leafs net again. This is not the line I wanted to be writing after being strongly in favour of managing Andersen’s workload this year, but here we are.

Andersen’s in tough having to face the Stanley Cup champions, and hasn’t exactly set the world on fire in the past two starts, but that doesn’t change the fact that he will get it under control and teach us all how to love again. As for Hutchinson, well, he’ll serve a constant reminder of how badly I wanted the Leafs to claim Oscar Dansk.

2. No free passes for the defense on under-performing so far either.

I know none of you want to here about how bad Cody Ceci is yet. I know that many of you seem to be fine with what you’ve seen so far. I know you all have your preferred defenseman to throw under the bus, and Ceci is just mine, but rather than name individuals beyond what I have already done, we have to acknowledge that collectively the Leafs haven’t been great in their own zone. We can also acknowledge that this isn’t new because that’s been the story for what seems like at least a decade, and we can hold out home that having a new defensive coach, and three new defensemen on the blueline this year means we’re waiting out them all adjusting to the new way of doing things.

3. One last negative one… Kasperi Kapanen

If there is one Leafs forward who has been truly underwhelming so far this year it’s Kapanen. He’s an easy target after his idiotic stick throwing incident, but generally he’s been blowing his golden opportunity of playing with Tavares and Marner, and frankly seems to be dragging two players who normally have a reputation for elevating their linemates. Given how well Trevor Moore has been playing, I wonder if switching Moore and Kapanen makes sense at this point, though frankly I’m not sure I’d want to mess with everything that is going right with Mikheyev-Kerfoot-Moore.

4. Let’s keep on singing the praise of Trevor Moore

I do this not because our site manager has an unhealthy love of Trevor Moore, but because we all should love Trevor Moore. Trevor Moore is largely what people wanted to believe that Connor Brown was, or maybe what Connor Brown was in his first season. Moore is a player you notice every shift he’s on the ice and puts in the amount of effort that makes him impossible to hate. The fact that he’s been getting results so far only makes him more lovable, and when Hyman returns later this month he’ll be a hard one to demote back to the fourth line, although having Trevor Moore on your 4th line is probably a good sign this team is oozing with depth-y goodness.

5. Auston Matthews’ one timer

The work he did on developing this shot was time well spent. Hoooooooooooooooooo Doggy! He’s going to score a million goals this year.

Puck drop is at 7:00 PM ET and the game can be seen on TSN 4 in Ontario.