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Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Maple Leafs Pregame #11: 5 Things to watch for in the land of nightmares

Boston again. Boston after a poor performance against Columbus. Boston after going to overtime the previous night and the having to fly out. Boston with Michael Hutchinson in net.

It’s safe to say I don’t have a good feeling about this game, despite the overtime win against Boston on Saturday. Remember though, we live in a world where anything is possible and despite all signs pointing to a less than fun time tonight, I am very open to being proven wrong.

Lineups

LW C RW Forwards
Andreas Johnsson
ANDREAS JOHNSSON

Rating: 74.4#34 LW

Auston Matthews
AUSTON MATTHEWS

Rating: 80.0#7 C

William Nylander
WILLIAM NYLANDER

Rating: 73.2#52 RW

FL1 Rating
Rating: 75.89#20 FL1
Ilya Mikheyev
ILYA MIKHEYEV

Rating: 74.7#31 LW

Alexander Kerfoot
ALEXANDER KERFOOT

Rating: 72.7#92 C

Mitch Marner
MITCH MARNER

Rating: 79.2#11 RW

FL2 Rating
Rating: 75.55#6 FL2
Trevor Moore
TREVOR MOORE

Rating: 72.2#73 LW

Jason Spezza
JASON SPEZZA

Rating: 70.6#148 C

Kasperi Kapanen
KASPERI KAPANEN

Rating: 73.3#48 RW

FL3 Rating
Rating: 72.06#18 FL3
Dmytro Timashov
DMYTRO TIMASHOV

Rating: 73.9#42 LW

Nick Shore
NICK SHORE

Rating: 70.8#142 C

Frederik Gauthier
FREDERIK GAUTHIER

Rating: 69.7#106 RW

FL4 Rating
Rating: 71.49#8 FL4
DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS Defense
Morgan Rielly
MORGAN RIELLY

Rating: 77.5#5 LD

Cody Ceci
CODY CECI

Rating: 71.9#70 RD

DL1 Rating
Rating: 74.69#17 DL1
Jake Muzzin
JAKE MUZZIN

Rating: 75.3#18 LD

Tyson Barrie
TYSON BARRIE

Rating: 76.3#15 RD

DL2 Rating
Rating: 75.82#2 DL2
Martin Marincin
MARTIN MARINCIN

Rating: 71.6#95 LD

Justin Holl
JUSTIN HOLL

Rating: 73.8#35 RD

DL3 Rating
Rating: 72.70#14 DL3
LW C RW Forwards
Brad Marchand
BRAD MARCHAND

Rating: 84.7#2 LW

Patrice Bergeron
PATRICE BERGERON

Rating: 81.1#5 C

David Pastrnak
DAVID PASTRNAK

Rating: 84.9#1 RW

FL1 Rating
Rating: 83.57#1 FL1
Jake DeBrusk
JAKE DEBRUSK

Rating: 73.8#44 LW

Charlie Coyle
CHARLIE COYLE

Rating: 72.2#104 C

Brett Ritchie
BRETT RITCHIE

Rating: 69.2#110 RW

FL2 Rating
Rating: 71.72#30 FL2
Danton Heinen
DANTON HEINEN

Rating: 71.8#80 LW

Par Lindholm
PAR LINDHOLM

Rating: 68.7#180 C

David Backes
DAVID BACKES

Rating: 70.7#93 RW

FL3 Rating
Rating: 70.40#29 FL3
Joakim Nordstrom
JOAKIM NORDSTROM

Rating: 70.4#150 LW

Sean Kuraly
SEAN KURALY

Rating: 71.4#125 C

Chris Wagner
CHRIS WAGNER

Rating: 70.4#97 RW

FL4 Rating
Rating: 70.73#19 FL4
DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS Defense
Zdeno Chara
ZDENO CHARA

Rating: 75.0#21 LD

Charlie McAvoy
CHARLIE MCAVOY

Rating: 76.6#12 RD

DL1 Rating
Rating: 75.76#9 DL1
Torey Krug
TOREY KRUG

Rating: 79.4#2 LD

Brandon Carlo
BRANDON CARLO

Rating: 75.2#22 RD

DL2 Rating
Rating: 77.28#1 DL2
Matt Grzelcyk
MATT GRZELCYK

Rating: 74.3#36 LD

Steve Kampfer
STEVE KAMPFER

Rating: 73.1#49 RD

DL3 Rating
Rating: 73.69#4 DL3

1. It really is just one line.

The Bruins defense isn’t too shabby and there are a handful of respect forwards, but really the Bruins are now just one incredibly good line that needs to be dealt with. The Leafs are a little deeper than that, albeit a little worse on defense. Rather than trying to line match to the Bruins incredibly good line, wouldn’t it be nice to see the Leafs drive the play in a manner that puts the Bergeron line on the ice in less than ideal situations for them? Alas, I’m talking crazy again, and look for the Leafs to go to great lengths to put Cody Ceci next to David Pastrnak for some reason.

2. Please sit Martin Marincin

I know this will get me kicked out of the blogger union, but Marincin has looked atrocious this year and frankly his numbers don’t justify him being used every night. While the reasoning behind demoting Sandin makes some sense, not platooning Marincin with Gravel seems silly, especially after a bad night for Marincin, but especially after a back to back when an extra pair of fresh legs wouldn’t hurt.

3. The Leafs probably should have played Hutchinson last night

Remember yesterday when we talked about what if Andersen loses, what does that do the chance of winning the second half of a back to back? Well, we’re living in that world now. The Leafs took a loss against Columbus last night, something that Michael Hutchinson could have equally provided, and now are in the situation where they face a divisional opponent with their backup goaltender with a tired team in front of him. It’s easy to be cocky about coaching philosophy before the games are played, but it didn’t take long for that self imposed rule to look pretty stupid.

Here’s hoping that Hutchinson surprises us tonight and he has shown he’s capable of surprises, but I wouldn’t rule out this being the third rough start for Hutchinson tonight. I’m getting curious how long the leash is on him, and how active the Leafs have been on trying to replace him.

4. More of Marner with Mikheyev and Kerfoot, please

Overtime idiocy aside, I am here to say positive things about Marner with this line and would like to see more of it. In fact, I like it so much I’d suggest that making it permanent or at a regular thing throughout the year would bring me joy. Imagine a world where the Leafs roll:

Johnsson-Matthews-Nylander
Hyman-Tavares-Kapanen
Mikheyev-Kerfoot-Marner
Who-Cares-?

That’s the world I want to live in.

Of course, we might see it not work as well tonight, but so far so good.

5. Jake Muzzin appreciation

Every game I love Jake Muzzin a little more, and games against Boston are when I appreciate him the most. I’m hoping Muzzin is feeling up to a lot of work against the Bergeron line tonight because if there is one player I do want to see matched to them, it’s Jake.

While Muzzin is on the older side of the Leafs roster, I’d say he’s someone that Dubas needs to be hard at work on bringing back, especially when next year’s lineup will include youngins like Sandin, Liljegren, and Dermott.

It’s hard to find the good version of a stay at home defenseman, but Muzzin is essentially that.

Game time is 7:00 PM ET and can be seen on TSN 4 in Ontario.