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Maple Leafs Pregame #28: 5 Things to watch for in the home-end of the back-to-back

The Maple Leafs saw their first loss in the Sheldon Keefe era last night, as a horrendous second period cost them the game. It wasn’t all on Hutchinson, but he also could’ve been better and helped them out, so maybe Freddie will provide that stability tonight.

Anyway, here’s five things to watch for…

From OddsShark.com – The total has gone OVER in 5 of Toronto’s last 6 games against Buffalo.

1. How will Keefe react?

I made this point in my postgame last night, but one thing that will be interesting is how Keefe reacts to his first NHL loss, especially one that saw such a terrible second period play out. Will he stay the course (since it worked for three games beforehand) or will he change things up?

Personally, I think he shouldn’t do too much to change what’s been working, aside from…

2. How will Keefe adjust the rosters?

At the time of writing this, there are no official lineups for tonight, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens. Will he rotate out some of the fringe players to give them rest? Will he give older guys like Spezza a day off? Only time will tell.

Also, what will the ice time look like? Will he lean on his stars again, or will he even out the ice time a bit more to help with fatigue?

3. Will Freddie be the difference?

I alluded to this in the intro, but Hutch had another bad game, even though you can’t entirely pin it on him. With Freddie in tonight, maybe a bit more stability in the pipes will help the Leafs tonight against the same team as yesterday.

4. Matthews vs. Eichel 2: Electric Boogaloo

In last night’s matchup, Eichel helped the Sabres en route to a comeback 6-4 win, while Matthews was basically invisible on the ice until the final five minutes when the Leafs were trying for the tying goal. Hopefully it’s the other way around, and Matthews has a much more dominant performance.

5. Will playing the backup first bite the Leafs?

One debate when Babs was coach was how he would always start Freddy the first night of a back-to-back, regardless of the situation and the opponent, in hopes that starting your best goalie when the lineup was fresh would guarantee a win.

In his first back-to-back as coach, Keefe went the other way around, and started Hutch yesterday. So, let’s see if the Leafs can at least get two points tonight and even it out, otherwise the Babs defenders will be out with pitchforks.

Game time is at 7pm on CBC.