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Maple Leafs Pregame #8: 5 things to watch for against Washington

Leafs hockey two nights in a row. What a treat. Playing against the Wild was a nice appetizer, but the Capitals are definitely the main course and for a Leafs team that has struggled against any team that doesn’t look like it’s lottery pick bound, well, it would be nice to see a win tonight.

Fun bettors fact from our friends at OddsShark.com – The total has gone OVER in 6 of Toronto’s last 7 games against an opponent in the East conference.

LW C RW Forwards
Andreas Johnsson
ANDREAS JOHNSSON

Rating: 73.4#51 LW

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Auston Matthews
AUSTON MATTHEWS

Rating: 81.1#5 C

William Nylander
WILLIAM NYLANDER

Rating: 74.3#34 RW

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FL1 Rating
Rating: 76.29#17 FL1
Kasperi Kapanen
KASPERI KAPANEN

Rating: 72.5#75 LW

John Tavares
JOHN TAVARES

Rating: 78.7#15 C

Mitch Marner
MITCH MARNER

Rating: 78.3#17 RW

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FL2 Rating
Rating: 76.49#4 FL2
Ilya Mikheyev
ILYA MIKHEYEV

Rating: 74.9#33 LW

Alexander Kerfoot
ALEXANDER KERFOOT

Rating: 73.0#86 C

Trevor Moore
TREVOR MOORE

Rating: 72.5#62 RW

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FL3 Rating
Rating: 73.46#3 FL3
Dmytro Timashov
DMYTRO TIMASHOV

Rating: 74.4#40 LW

Nick Shore
NICK SHORE

Rating: 70.9#144 C

Frederik Gauthier
FREDERIK GAUTHIER

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Rating: 70.2#100 RW

FL4 Rating
Rating: 71.81#6 FL4
DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS Defense
Morgan Rielly
MORGAN RIELLY

Rating: 77.0#7 LD

Cody Ceci
CODY CECI

Rating: 72.2#72 RD

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DL1 Rating
Rating: 74.58#17 DL1
Jake Muzzin
JAKE MUZZIN

Rating: 75.2#21 LD

Tyson Barrie
TYSON BARRIE

Rating: 77.2#10 RD

DL2 Rating
Rating: 76.18#2 DL2
Martin Marincin
MARTIN MARINCIN

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Rating: 72.0#88 LD

Justin Holl
JUSTIN HOLL

Rating: 74.4#29 RD

DL3 Rating
Rating: 73.23#9 DL3
LW C RW Forwards
Alex Ovechkin
ALEX OVECHKIN

Rating: 80.2#5 LW

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Nicklas Backstrom
NICKLAS BACKSTROM

Rating: 76.9#25 C

T.J. Oshie
T.J. OSHIE

Rating: 75.9#18 RW

FL1 Rating
Rating: 77.65#7 FL1
Carl Hagelin
CARL HAGELIN

Rating: 70.9#110 LW

Evgeny Kuznetsov
EVGENY KUZNETSOV

Rating: 76.4#28 C

Tom Wilson
TOM WILSON

Rating: 74.5#31 RW

FL2 Rating
Rating: 73.96#15 FL2
Jakub Vrana
JAKUB VRANA

Rating: 73.6#74 LW

Lars Eller
LARS ELLER

Rating: 73.2#81 C

Garnet Hathaway
GARNET HATHAWAY

Rating: 72.0#68 RW

FL3 Rating
Rating: 72.92#4 FL3
Brendan Leipsic
BRENDAN LEIPSIC

Rating: 72.0#86 LW

Chandler Stephenson
CHANDLER STEPHENSON

Rating: 68.9#175 C

Richard Panik
RICHARD PANIK

Rating: 72.0#69 RW

FL4 Rating
Rating: 70.96#18 FL4
DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS Defense
Jonas Siegenthaler
JONAS SIEGENTHALER

Rating: 72.6#77 LD

John Carlson
JOHN CARLSON

Rating: 79.6#2 RD

DL1 Rating
Rating: 76.09#9 DL1
Dmitri Orlov
DMITRI ORLOV

Rating: 73.5#55 LD

Radko Gudas
RADKO GUDAS

Rating: 71.9#79 RD

DL2 Rating
Rating: 72.67#26 DL2
Nick Jensen
NICK JENSEN

Rating: 71.9#80 LD

Tyler Lewington
TYLER LEWINGTON

Rating: 74.3#30 RD

DL3 Rating
Rating: 73.08#12 DL3

1. Hold on, the Caps have Leipsic and Panik?

I mean good for them for being in the NHL still, and I had no idea they were in Washington until I looked at the lineup this morning. Both players are decent enough for their 4th line role and we can probably count on at least one of them burning the Leafs tonight, but what a special night for the “#shouldofkept” crowd that was convinced that both of these players were above replacement level. They might be on the better side of replacement level, but they are replacement level.

2. Hutchinson is back in net

I’ve got many thoughts on the consistent approach that Mike Babcock takes with his starter being guaranteed the first part of back to back games, and the backup working with the tired second night squad. Last night I’d argue that Babcock was right and the Leafs needed Freddie Andersen to get past the Wild. The fact that the Leafs made beating the Wild look hard, at least for the first period doesn’t give me a lot of hope for tonight, and neither does Hutchinson’s first start.

Hutchinson really needs to show that he can at least not hinder the Leafs in these B2B games, and maybe his mop up duty against Tampa has him feeling a little better about his role on the team. I don’t think he’s going to get as long a leash as Sparks had last year, so if he doesn’t get things figured out quickly his job could be in jeopardy.

3. Will Gravel play?

Some fresh legs will likely come in the form of Nic Petan and Jason Spezza, but will Martin Marincin be swapped out as well? Last night wasn’t the greatest performance by Marincin, and it seems that Justin Holl is establishing himself as the right side defender on the bottom pair. I don’t think any more thought needs to be given to this, but we will remain on #GravelWatch until he plays.

4. Moore time with Tavares?

Trevor Moore played one shift with Tavares and Marner and immediately changed their path for the season. All of a sudden they found their offensive bliss and we loved watching them play hockey again. I think it’s also possibly time to consider that Trevor Moore is pretty good, or at least really good for what the Leafs need him to be and that’s Zach Hyman.

That begs the question, does Babcock see what the rest of seem to, and that is that the line should stay together and Kapanen should return to the right side of the ice on the Kerfoot line. I’m not entirely sure what’s wrong with Kapanen, but generally it looks like he’s trying to play a game that doesn’t suit him. He needs the opportunity to be blazing straight line speed, and with the success that Mikheyev and Kerfoot have been having breaking out of their own zone this year, they might be able to spring Kapanen on a few breakaways in the near future and this whole bad lineup card thing can soon be forgotten.

5. Tom Wilson is an exploding pile of trash

I don’t really have a lot to elaborate on this with. I just think it’s important to note it whenever the Leafs play the Caps.

Start time for the game is 7:00 PM ET and can be seen nationally on Sportsnet One.