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Photo Credit: © Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Maple Leafs Pregame #29: 5 Things to Watch vs. the Flyers

Apparently the Leafs and Flyers wanted to get their games over with, because tonight will be the third and final meeting between the two clubs only two months into the season.

Lineups

First line centre Morgan Frost, huh?

1. JVR

James van Riemsdyk has been off to a slow start this season, with only 5 goals and 11 points with the Flyers. It seems like former Leafs always have a field day against Toronto (he did have a hat trick last year), so we’ll see if he has a breakout game tonight, although it might be hard on the fourth line.

2. The Fringe Guys

Nick Shore got sent down earlier today, and with Marner and Moore apparently ready to come back soon, the depth guys are all going to want to play well to figure out who will fill out the bottom six. Spezza seems to have locked himself in thanks to the coaching change, but guys like Petan, Gauthier, and Timashov are all going to have to put on their A-game, because not only could they not be regulars in the lineup once the Leafs are healthy, they might not fit on the roster in the cap crunch.

3. Pierre Engvall

Engvall is also included in the previous point, but I wanted to single him out because I’d imagine he got a boost of confidence seeing Nick Shore get sent down today instead of him. For someone who was just an injury call-up, he’s looking more and more like a regular every day.

4. John Tavares’ goal streak

The front half of the six game road trip was a bit of a stuggle for Tavares, as he was pointless in the first four games. But, since then, he has six points in three games, including four goals, so let’s see if he can keep that up tonight. He’ll certainly get the chance against the Flyers, as he has 19 career goals against them, the third most against any team in his career.

5. Will the Leafs rebound?

It’s starting to look like the honeymoon phase of the coaching change is over, as the sudden change in strategies is causing some mistakes to be made, which were glaring in both games against the Sabres. Maybe we’ll see tonight if this hot streak is skill or just adrenaline.

Game time is 7PM ET on TSN4.