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Maple Leafs Pregame #62: 5 Things to watch in the Pittsburgh rematch

After getting destroyed by Pittsburgh on Tuesday, aren’t you thrilled the next game the Leafs are playing is against Pittsburgh? YAAYYYYYYY!!!

You could go into this hoping the Leafs are going to make a statement. You could go into this game hoping the Leafs will continue to fight to stay on the right side of the playoff bubble. You could point to how talented this team is, but ultimately, you probably aren’t feeling too confident tonight. That’s probably the biggest issue with the Leafs. Lots of talent, but no certainty of success.

This is the second last game the Leafs play before the trade deadline, at the very least they should be playing to show Kyle Dubas they don’t want the roster blown up.

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Lineups

LW C RW Forwards
Zach Hyman
ZACH HYMAN

Rating: 75.3#27 LW

Auston Matthews
AUSTON MATTHEWS

Rating: 82.4#3 C

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Mitch Marner
MITCH MARNER

Rating: 77.7#10 RW

FL1 Rating
Rating: 78.44#6 FL1
William Nylander
WILLIAM NYLANDER

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Rating: 76.5#15 LW

John Tavares
JOHN TAVARES

Rating: 78.7#13 C

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Alexander Kerfoot
ALEXANDER KERFOOT

Rating: 72.1#86 RW

FL2 Rating
Rating: 75.75#5 FL2
Pierre Engvall
PIERRE ENGVALL

Rating: 71.3#95 LW

Frederik Gauthier
FREDERIK GAUTHIER

Rating: 68.3#157 C

Kasperi Kapanen
KASPERI KAPANEN

Rating: 71.5#99 RW

FL3 Rating
Rating: 70.35#30 FL3
Kyle Clifford
KYLE CLIFFORD

Rating: 69.9#125 LW

Jason Spezza
JASON SPEZZA

Rating: 70.6#114 C

Dmytro Timashov
DMYTRO TIMASHOV

Rating: 70.8#110 RW

FL4 Rating
Rating: 70.44#13 FL4
DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS Defense
Jake Muzzin
JAKE MUZZIN

Rating: 73.7#41 LD

Justin Holl
JUSTIN HOLL

Rating: 71.7#82 RD

DL1 Rating
Rating: 72.68#25 DL1
Martin Marincin
MARTIN MARINCIN

Rating: 71.0#101 LD

Tyson Barrie
TYSON BARRIE

Rating: 75.6#16 RD

DL2 Rating
Rating: 73.26#18 DL2
Travis Dermott
TRAVIS DERMOTT

Rating: 71.5#87 LD

Rasmus Sandin
RASMUS SANDIN

Rating: 72.8#53 RD

DL3 Rating
Rating: 72.17#11 DL3
LW C RW Forwards
Jason Zucker
JASON ZUCKER

Rating: 74.4#37 LW

Sidney Crosby
SIDNEY CROSBY

Rating: 82.1#6 C

Dominik Simon
DOMINIK SIMON

Rating: 70.2#124 RW

FL1 Rating
Rating: 75.58#15 FL1
Jared McCann
JARED MCCANN

Rating: 73.2#51 LW

Evgeni Malkin
EVGENI MALKIN

Rating: 79.7#11 C

Bryan Rust
BRYAN RUST

Rating: 76.6#13 RW

FL2 Rating
Rating: 76.49#2 FL2
Brandon Tanev
BRANDON TANEV

Rating: 71.8#80 LW

Teddy Blueger
TEDDY BLUEGER
Patric Hornqvist
PATRIC HORNQVIST

Rating: 75.4#27 RW

FL3 Rating
Rating: 73.62#3 FL3
Dominik Kahun
DOMINIK KAHUN

Rating: 72.4#69 LW

Andrew Agozzino
ANDREW AGOZZINO

Rating: 72.9#59 C

Sam Lafferty
SAM LAFFERTY

Rating: 71.6#97 RW

FL4 Rating
Rating: 72.30#1 FL4
DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS Defense
Jack Johnson
JACK JOHNSON

Rating: 71.9#76 LD

Kris Letang
KRIS LETANG

Rating: 79.0#3 RD

DL1 Rating
Rating: 75.45#8 DL1
Marcus Pettersson
MARCUS PETTERSSON

Rating: 73.2#50 LD

Justin Schultz
JUSTIN SCHULTZ

Rating: 73.5#36 RD

DL2 Rating
Rating: 73.38#17 DL2
Juuso Riikola
JUUSO RIIKOLA

Rating: 72.6#63 LD

Chad Ruhwedel
CHAD RUHWEDEL

Rating: 71.4#89 RD

DL3 Rating
Rating: 71.96#14 DL3

Hopefully we get an update that Korshkov and Liljegren find their way back into the lineup, but I’m not holding my breath, especially since they weren’t assigned to lines in practice yesterday.

Here are 5 things to watch for.

1. Andersen still wants to start

The Leafs are going back to Andersen, and this is 100% a loyalty move. Maybe not this season, but previous years have earned Andersen the chance to prove that he is still the starter. Let him come back in against a team that made him look ridiculous and show he can beat them.

That being said, there have been a lot of chances for Andersen to assert his net dominance since the beginning of December and he’s looked shaky at best. I’d argue he might not be the goaltender for Sheldon Keefe and moving on this summer makes sense, and also in that spirit, perhaps going with the hot hand while the season is on the line is the case for Campbell playing a lot more.

Depending on how this game goes, that will make up a lot of minds on Andersen, so no pressure, guy.

2. Who sits out?

It’s trade deadline season, so maybe we’ll get a couple of late scratches for “precautionary reasons.” I get the sense it won’t be coming on the Leafs side, but the Penguins are usually not timid around the deadline and maybe we’ll see some lineup changes. Additionally, Malkin isn’t 100% and the Leafs might get another night off from him, not that it helped much.

3. Malgin?

Where does Malgin slot in? He’s played with Matthews before, but that isn’t happening here (yet.) Paul McFarland had him Florida, and probably can help figure out the best fit for him. Putting him in as center on day one might be a stretch, so I’m guessing we see him on the 4th line right wing, though with Gauthier playing 3rd line center, you’d hope that he’s place holding for someone who can actually fill that role properly.

4. Kapanen/Kerfoot

Whether you want them to play well to up their trade value or you want them to play well in order to help the Leafs win, or both, there’s a need for Kerfoot and Kapanen to be better than they have been. Kapanen has provided the Leafs with reminders of his talent, and could simply be snakebitten. Kerfoot is just looking regrettable, and is proving that Tavares can’t work miracles with every player thrown on his wing.

5. Scoreboard watching

The Panthers play the watered down Kings tonight. That’s unfortunate. At least it’s the second game of a back to back for them, but there is a good chance to Panthers are still occupying the 3rd spot in the Atlantic after tonight.

The Flyers and Blue Jackets face each other tonight, so we can probably assume this game is going to overtime. The Flyers are presently sitting at 73 points, and the Blue Jackets at 72, but outside the playoffs, so the Leafs would pull back into the wild card race, but wouldn’t grab a playoff spot in any situation, and in fact it’s a bit of a bummer that no matter what one of these teams is in a better situation tomorrow.

Game time is 7PM ET and can be seen on TSN4.