0

Maple Leafs Pregame #17: 5 things to watch for against Vegas

What happens in Toronto stays in Toronto, and hopefully what happens is the Leafs keep on winning.

Lineups

LW C RW Forwards
Trevor Moore
TREVOR MOORE

Rating: 70.9#110 LW

John Tavares
JOHN TAVARES

Rating: 78.7#11 C

Mitch Marner
MITCH MARNER

Rating: 78.6#12 RW

FL1 Rating
Rating: 76.08#13 FL1
Andreas Johnsson
ANDREAS JOHNSSON

Rating: 73.9#44 LW

Auston Matthews
AUSTON MATTHEWS

Rating: 80.1#7 C

William Nylander
WILLIAM NYLANDER

Rating: 73.5#44 RW

FL2 Rating
Rating: 75.83#4 FL2
Ilya Mikheyev
ILYA MIKHEYEV

Rating: 74.4#34 LW

Alexander Kerfoot
ALEXANDER KERFOOT

Rating: 72.7#92 C

Kasperi Kapanen
KASPERI KAPANEN

Rating: 72.8#54 RW

FL3 Rating
Rating: 73.29#4 FL3
Nic Petan
NIC PETAN

Rating: 72.0#113 LW

Nick Shore
NICK SHORE

Rating: 70.8#138 C

Frederik Gauthier
FREDERIK GAUTHIER

Rating: 68.8#114 RW

FL4 Rating
Rating: 70.50#23 FL4
DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS Defense
Morgan Rielly
MORGAN RIELLY

Rating: 76.8#8 LD

Cody Ceci
CODY CECI

Rating: 71.7#83 RD

DL1 Rating
Rating: 74.24#18 DL1
Jake Muzzin
JAKE MUZZIN

Rating: 75.2#18 LD

Tyson Barrie
TYSON BARRIE

Rating: 75.5#20 RD

DL2 Rating
Rating: 75.38#2 DL2
Travis Dermott
TRAVIS DERMOTT

Rating: 72.9#65 LD

Justin Holl
JUSTIN HOLL

Rating: 73.2#49 RD

DL3 Rating
Rating: 73.03#11 DL3
LW C RW Forwards
Jonathan Marchessault
JONATHAN MARCHESSAULT

Rating: 75.6#24 LW

William Karlsson
WILLIAM KARLSSON

Rating: 75.2#41 C

Reilly Smith
REILLY SMITH

Rating: 75.8#17 RW

FL1 Rating
Rating: 75.53#16 FL1
Max Pacioretty
MAX PACIORETTY

Rating: 77.1#13 LW

Paul Stastny
PAUL STASTNY

Rating: 76.8#24 C

Mark Stone
MARK STONE

Rating: 78.2#6 RW

FL2 Rating
Rating: 77.39#2 FL2
Tomas Nosek
TOMAS NOSEK

Rating: 71.1#129 LW

Cody Eakin
CODY EAKIN

Rating: 70.7#141 C

Cody Glass
CODY GLASS

Rating: 73.1#75 RW

FL3 Rating
Rating: 71.65#20 FL3
Will Carrier
WILL CARRIER

Rating: 70.6#119 LW

Nicolas Roy
NICOLAS ROY
Ryan Reaves
RYAN REAVES

Rating: 70.6#99 RW

FL4 Rating
Rating: 71.43#9 FL4
DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS Defense
Brayden McNabb
BRAYDEN MCNABB

Rating: 73.4#50 LD

Nate Schmidt
NATE SCHMIDT

Rating: 75.6#12 RD

DL1 Rating
Rating: 74.48#16 DL1
Nicolas Hague
NICOLAS HAGUE
Shea Theodore
SHEA THEODORE

Rating: 76.0#10 RD

DL2 Rating
Rating: 74.85#7 DL2
Jon Merrill
JON MERRILL

Rating: 73.3#54 LD

Nick Holden
NICK HOLDEN

Rating: 73.6#45 RD

DL3 Rating
Rating: 73.44#7 DL3

So there’s that. It seems like Spezza’s strong game in Philadelphia might have been his last as a Leaf. We might as well deal with that first in the 5 things to watch for.

1. The Hyman return death clock

So Petan is out. Spezza is out. Marincin is out. Shore and Timashov are in. With Hyman possibly returning Saturday this could be the last day that this is one big happy Leafs family and right now it looks like Petan, Spezza, and Marincin are the favourites to be sent packing.

Timashov is pretty close to a lock for staying, and since Shore has been essentially the tandem 4C with Gauthier, it seems that’s how it’s going to be, although I want to strongly suggest that keeping Petan over Gauthier makes so much sense my eyes bleed, and for that matter, I don’t know why you wouldn’t keep Spezza over Shore as well, but we’ll take this for what it’s worth…

If I was the Leafs 4th line, I’d certainly not want to give any reason to Kyle Dubas to second guess the direction the team has been going in, but then again, just because Babcock likes playing Timashov, Gauthier, and Shore doesn’t mean that they are the favourites in the eyes of Dubas and he’ll be the one making this call.

2. Trevor Moore’s last dance in the top 9?

The other fallout of Hyman’s looming return is that Trevor Moore could see a pretty significant slide from 1st line duty down to the 4th line. Such is the life of a role player, but given how good Moore has been I’m curious if his success puts targets on the backs of players like Johnsson and Kapanen, especially Johnsson, as Moore could allow Babcock to mirror the setup of the Tavares line on the Matthews line as well.

Worst case scenario we get a 4th line with Timashov and Moore which seems incredibly fun, even if they have a center who kills fun.

I’d like to see Moore go out with a bang tonight and send a message to the other Leafs wingers that he’ll be stealing jobs when they are slumping.

3. Can Nylander keep it going?

Nylander has had a pretty darn good year so far, with the exception of offensive output, but we got a bit more of that against LA. It would be nice if that was the opening of the floodgates and the end of the Nylander bashing era, but I’m not holding my breath, especially when the majority of the Toronto media is playing their favourite game, How to trade Nylander for pennies on the dollar.

4. Is Dermott ready to move up the lineup?

Dermott hasn’t looked out of place, and in fact the Dermott-Holl pairing has been about everything you could hope for in a 3rd pairing. It seems in the coming days we’ll forget that Dermott missed camp and has been rehabbing an injury and we’ll start talking about whether he can play in situations beyond the sheltered role he’s presently in. This is a bit of a broken record because pretty much every year starts and ends with Dermott can be doing more than he’s presently doing and deserves a chance. Given that Barrie has been slumping and that Cody Ceci shouldn’t be playing in the NHL, let alone on the Leafs top pairing, I wonder if we’ll see right side Dermott revisited and if he’ll get a few shifts away from Holl in the near future.

5. Mandatory outrage over special teams

Perhaps one of the reasons the Leafs don’t play with much of an edge and don’t line up to take retaliatory penalties when teammates are slighted is because their penalty kill is a disorganized mess and that will be something to watch for against Vegas, a team with a top six forward group that can punish you on the power play and a bottom six designed to agitate you into taking dumb penalties.

As for the Leafs on the power play, the drum that I will continue to beat is that Nylander and Barrie need to be put in positions where they can have some success, and if that the cost of that is splitting up Matthews and Tavares, well, so be it. It would be nice to see the power play turn the corner at the very least, as there is such a wealth of talent it’s hard to come up with excuses for why it’s not working, even though the answer seems to be connected to it’s predictability, lack of net presence, poor personnel decisions, and Rielly’s weak point shot (seriously, they didn’t let him take the point shot in Moose Jaw, why are they letting him do it at the NHL level?)

Game time is 7 PM ET and it can be seen on Sportsnet Ontario.