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Maple Leafs Pregame #10: 5 things to watch against the BJs

It’s election day. After you’ve voted instead of watching three hours of election coverage that will make you want to claw your eyes out, you can watch the Leafs play against a Blue Jackets team that makes their amateur scouts want to claw their eyes out.

Lineups

LW C RW Forwards
Andreas Johnsson
ANDREAS JOHNSSON

Rating: 74.4#36 LW

Auston Matthews
AUSTON MATTHEWS

Rating: 80.4#6 C

Mitch Marner
MITCH MARNER

Rating: 78.8#5 RW

FL1 Rating
Rating: 77.85#7 FL1
Ilya Mikheyev
ILYA MIKHEYEV

Rating: 74.6#33 LW

Alexander Kerfoot
ALEXANDER KERFOOT

Rating: 72.3#97 C

William Nylander
WILLIAM NYLANDER

Rating: 73.9#41 RW

FL2 Rating
Rating: 73.63#17 FL2
Trevor Moore
TREVOR MOORE

Rating: 72.3#75 LW

Jason Spezza
JASON SPEZZA

Rating: 70.5#145 C

Kasperi Kapanen
KASPERI KAPANEN

Rating: 73.4#48 RW

FL3 Rating
Rating: 72.08#15 FL3
Dmytro Timashov
DMYTRO TIMASHOV

Rating: 74.1#41 LW

Nick Shore
NICK SHORE

Rating: 70.8#138 C

Frederik Gauthier
FREDERIK GAUTHIER

Rating: 69.9#105 RW

FL4 Rating
Rating: 71.61#7 FL4
DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS Defense
Morgan Rielly
MORGAN RIELLY

Rating: 77.1#5 LD

Cody Ceci
CODY CECI

Rating: 72.2#67 RD

DL1 Rating
Rating: 74.63#17 DL1
Jake Muzzin
JAKE MUZZIN

Rating: 75.3#18 LD

Tyson Barrie
TYSON BARRIE

Rating: 76.7#12 RD

DL2 Rating
Rating: 76.02#2 DL2
Martin Marincin
MARTIN MARINCIN

Rating: 72.1#85 LD

Justin Holl
JUSTIN HOLL

Rating: 73.9#31 RD

DL3 Rating
Rating: 73.03#13 DL3
LW C RW Forwards
Nick Foligno
NICK FOLIGNO

Rating: 72.5#72 LW

Pierre-Luc Dubois
PIERRE-LUC DUBOIS

Rating: 76.0#30 C

Cam Atkinson
CAM ATKINSON

Rating: 77.0#14 RW

FL1 Rating
Rating: 75.18#23 FL1
Gustav Nyquist
GUSTAV NYQUIST

Rating: 73.2#63 LW

Alexander Wennberg
ALEXANDER WENNBERG

Rating: 71.3#126 C

Oliver Bjorkstrand
OLIVER BJORKSTRAND

Rating: 74.5#33 RW

FL2 Rating
Rating: 73.02#21 FL2
Alexandre Texier
ALEXANDRE TEXIER

Rating: 73.6#50 LW

Boone Jenner
BOONE JENNER

Rating: 72.3#96 C

Emil Bemstrom
EMIL BEMSTROM

Rating: 73.5#66 RW

FL3 Rating
Rating: 73.14#4 FL3
Jakob Lilja
JAKOB LILJA

Rating: 73.3#61 LW

Riley Nash
RILEY NASH

Rating: 69.5#165 C

Sonny Milano
SONNY MILANO

Rating: 71.1#82 RW

FL4 Rating
Rating: 71.30#9 FL4
DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS Defense
Zach Werenski
ZACH WERENSKI

Rating: 75.7#14 LD

Seth Jones
SETH JONES

Rating: 77.4#8 RD

DL1 Rating
Rating: 76.53#7 DL1
Dean Kukan
DEAN KUKAN

Rating: 72.7#75 LD

Markus Nutivaara
MARKUS NUTIVAARA

Rating: 73.8#36 RD

DL2 Rating
Rating: 73.29#20 DL2
Vladislav Gavrikov
VLADISLAV GAVRIKOV

Rating: 73.3#58 LD

David Savard
DAVID SAVARD

Rating: 73.8#38 RD

DL3 Rating
Rating: 73.54#6 DL3

Here are 5 things to watch for:

1. Are we still underrating Cam Atkinson?

I think this applies for a lot of the Blue Jackets players, such as Nutivaara, Savard, Bjorkstrand, etc., but it seems like Cam Atkinson has quietly been a good player for a long time, and his 41 goals last year didn’t receive much fanfare.

Now, it doesn’t exactly seem like Atkinson can drive the C-Bus, and only has 2 goals and an assist now that his A-list teammates have relocated, but Atkinson is an under the radar threat, as much as any All-Star player can be and it will be interesting to see if the Leafs slump busting defense helps him out tonight.

Speaking of underrated players, Josh Anderson has been pulled off the injured reserve and will be looking to have his Brayden Point moment tonight.

Fun fact from our friends at OddsShark.com – The total has gone OVER in 5 of Toronto’s last 7 games this season.

2. Riding that regular season win over Boston high

The last thing I want to do is dump all over the Leafs first win this season against a good team, especially when that win came against the organization’s measuring stick, annual playoff nemesis, and the came without John Tavares in the lineup. The team needed the win and got it, largely on the back of Freddie Andersen who had some demons he needed to deal with against Boston as well.

It will be interesting to see if the Leafs some momentum off the win and if we are heading for happier days with smoother waters and bluer skies.

3. For the love of God stop sitting on one goal leads

I can’t be the only one who found the third period of the game against the Bruins incredibly hard to watch. Turning off the offense, which drives the Leafs, in favour of sitting back on their defensive position, which we have years of evidence pointing to be a shortcoming, seems like an incredibly bad idea. Yet here we are again, watching Freddie Andersen get shelled. Watching the puck get skated to the center line so it can be dumped into the Bruins end. Finally, we get the inevitable top line goal that pushes the game to overtime. It was nice to have the good outcome this time, but can we acknowledge that good things don’t happen when the Leafs stop applying pressure? Can we make that one simple change in how the team is coached? I’m willing to shut up about all other things if the Leafs just start playing an offensively driven game no matter the score.

4. Matthews and Marner

It’s fun watching the two of them play together, though I hate it comes at the cost of William Nylander. I’ve made my case for the Tavares-less Leafs line blender options, which would have Nylander playing with Kapanen and Johnsson, but the Leafs still refuse to listen to me, so here we are hoping that Nylander can click with Kerfoot and Mikheyev, while Matthews and Marner have the time of their lives. In reality, this move makes sense as Marner seems to be much more dependent on a strong offensive catalyst than Nylander.

5. Cody Ceci needs to be demoted

There hasn’t been a lot to be excited about with Ceci in the past few games, and with the thrill of him meeting the low expectations set for him in the early days of the season behind us, we’re now looking at a player who consistently makes poor decisions and is seemingly always out of position.

Ceci scored the last time the Leafs played Columbus and perhaps if he can repeat that fluke, we’ll forget that he’s been pretty bad.

Game time is 7:00 PM ET and can be found on Sportsnet.