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Maple Leafs Pregame #32: 5 Things to Watch for against the Canucks

The Leafs are heading out to Western Canada this week. That means two things:

  1. Leafs fans complaining about the start time of games
  2. Other fans complaining about the number of Leafs fans at their games

The important thing is that all hockey fans get to complain and that’s what we love to do the most.

Lineups

LW C RW Forwards
Pontus Aberg
PONTUS ABERG

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Rating: 71.6#88 LW

Auston Matthews
AUSTON MATTHEWS

Rating: 79.6#9 C

William Nylander
WILLIAM NYLANDER

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Rating: 74.7#28 RW

FL1 Rating
Rating: 75.30#15 FL1
Zach Hyman
ZACH HYMAN

Rating: 72.9#62 LW

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John Tavares
JOHN TAVARES

Rating: 79.0#13 C

Mitch Marner
MITCH MARNER

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Rating: 77.6#19 RW

FL2 Rating
Rating: 76.46#3 FL2
Ilya Mikheyev
ILYA MIKHEYEV

Rating: 73.7#47 LW

Alexander Kerfoot
ALEXANDER KERFOOT

Rating: 71.4#141 C

Kasperi Kapanen
KASPERI KAPANEN

Rating: 73.2#48 RW

FL3 Rating
Rating: 72.80#8 FL3
Pierre Engvall
PIERRE ENGVALL

Rating: 73.7#44 LW

Jason Spezza
JASON SPEZZA

Rating: 71.2#144 C

Nic Petan
NIC PETAN

Rating: 71.1#94 RW

FL4 Rating
Rating: 72.02#4 FL4
DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS Defense
Morgan Rielly
MORGAN RIELLY

Rating: 75.9#11 LD

Tyson Barrie
TYSON BARRIE

Rating: 75.8#16 RD

DL1 Rating
Rating: 75.88#11 DL1
Jake Muzzin
JAKE MUZZIN

Rating: 74.9#26 LD

Justin Holl
JUSTIN HOLL

Rating: 73.1#54 RD

DL2 Rating
Rating: 73.97#11 DL2
Travis Dermott
TRAVIS DERMOTT

Rating: 73.3#56 LD

Cody Ceci
CODY CECI

Rating: 71.7#88 RD

DL3 Rating
Rating: 72.48#16 DL3
LW C RW Forwards
Tanner Pearson
TANNER PEARSON

Rating: 74.3#37 LW

Bo Horvat
BO HORVAT

Rating: 75.4#37 C

Josh Leivo
JOSH LEIVO

Rating: 72.2#75 RW

FL1 Rating
Rating: 73.95#24 FL1
J.T. Miller
J.T. MILLER

Rating: 74.6#34 LW

Elias Pettersson
ELIAS PETTERSSON

Rating: 77.7#17 C

Brock Boeser
BROCK BOESER

Rating: 75.7#19 RW

FL2 Rating
Rating: 76.01#6 FL2
Antoine Roussel
ANTOINE ROUSSEL

Rating: 72.1#78 LW

Adam Gaudette
ADAM GAUDETTE

Rating: 71.6#135 C

Jake Virtanen
JAKE VIRTANEN

Rating: 72.1#73 RW

FL3 Rating
Rating: 71.94#16 FL3
Brandon Sutter
BRANDON SUTTER

Rating: 72.0#121 LW

Jay Beagle
JAY BEAGLE

Rating: 68.1#192 C

Micheal Ferland
MICHEAL FERLAND

Rating: 72.2#76 RW

FL4 Rating
Rating: 70.75#20 FL4
DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS Defense
Quinn Hughes
QUINN HUGHES

Rating: 75.2#21 LD

Tyler Myers
TYLER MYERS

Rating: 73.0#59 RD

DL1 Rating
Rating: 74.07#20 DL1
Oscar Fantenberg
OSCAR FANTENBERG

Rating: 72.4#81 LD

Chris Tanev
CHRIS TANEV

Rating: 71.9#80 RD

DL2 Rating
Rating: 72.15#26 DL2
Jalen Chatfield
JALEN CHATFIELD
Troy Stecher
TROY STECHER

Rating: 72.0#79 RD

DL3 Rating
Rating: 71.99#21 DL3

Somehow the Canucks are the better team so far this year. Perhaps it’s the Pacific Division advantage of all the teams being equally awful.

Here are five things to watch for.

1. Will we notice Aberg this game?

Despite him having a spot on the top line of the Leafs, he was pretty invisible in the dismantling of the Blues on Saturday night. And while he really shouldn’t be a top line player, it will be interesting to see how he will fit into the Leafs roster going forward and if he can make a case for holding down this job until Johnsson returns.

My guess is that Aberg will find a more sustainable role for himself in the near future and will be evaluated on that.

2. Josh Leivo vs. the Leafs

It’s mandatory to point out the former Leaf that is likely to light up Toronto, but Leivo is an interesting case, as he was cast aside by Babcock for so many years and has really found a home with the Canucks. He’s also a good reminder on why the Leafs are wrong to commit so much money to wingers, when they could have been relying on affordable depth contributors. A good game for Josh Leivo is further evidence to why Andreas Johnsson and Kasperi Kapanen are expendable.

3. Special Teams

Safe to say that special teams more than 5v5 has been the Leafs undoing. Things went really well against St. Louis and it will be interesting to see if the Leafs can build on that, and despite Andreas Johnsson being a part of both the PP and the PK, his absence didn’t hurt the team. A good game from Andersen definitely helped the PK, but perhaps he wants to bail the team out again.

4. Are the floodgates open for Auston?

Didn’t that 5 game goalless streak feel like it lasted forever?

I can honestly say I don’t want to head down the road of where we start dissecting Matthews game again, so I think it’s easier if he just keeps on scoring.

5. 4th Line Watch

Assuming Gauthier and Timashov are still out, and with Trevor Moore possibly returning at some point in this road trip, it will be interesting to see if Nic Petan can make a case for permanent Leafs residence, or if he’ll continue to underwhelm on the score sheet.

Pierre Engvall has been an interesting addition and looks likes the best option to stay with the Leafs, but if he cools at any point he’s the easy decision for demotion due to his waivers status.

While 4th line drama might not be your bag, the fact that the Leafs are facing off against first line winger Josh Leivo should illustrate why it’s at least a little important.

The game is scheduled to start at 10 PM ET, so plan your afternoon naps accordingly. It can be seen on Sportsnet.