Leafs Pregame: Win against Vancouver and we can call it a streak

On a day where we are a week removed from the Leafs losing to an emergency backup goaltender, who happened to be employed by the Leafs, the situation is a lot rosier. I mean, a lot rosier considering that they also lost Jake Muzzin for 4 weeks over that time, didn’t do anything at the trade deadline, and Freddie Andersen gave up 3 goals in the first period.

It’s rosier in the sense that the Leafs have won 3 of their last for, and for the first time in 13 games, they have the opportunity to find themselves on a three game win streak. How’s that for turning the tables on the narrative?

The Leafs still have an incredibly questionable and incredibly inexperienced blueline, but it is likely to be a six man unit tonight, with Denis Malgin factoring back into the forward lineup. The Leafs playing at home and controlling the lineup means that matchups will be easier to come by and for better or worse, the defensemen on the ice will in fact be the defensemen that Sheldon Keefe wants out there.

Freddie Andersen had an absolutely terrible first period, but the Leafs managed to figure out how to play in front of a shaky Andersen in the remaining two periods on Thursday night, and he seemed to calm himself down. Perhaps a more defensively responsible team combined with an Andersen that has looked good 2.5 of his last four games will help. If not, it will be all about the offense again, which works too, especially with Markstrom injured for Vancouver.

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Travis Dermott
Justin Holl
Rasmus Sandin
Tyson Barrie
Martin Marincin
Timothy Liljegren

I’d expect some shake up to that lineup card, as Malgin is quickly proving he’s a limited use 4th liner, and Spezza is quickly defining himself as the veteran who will drag the kids kicking and screaming into the playoffs. I still think something needs to be overhauled with the Leafs 3rd line, as nothing about it has made me feel good lately, but we’ll see how everything shakes out there.

As for the Canucks, despite adding Tyler Toffoli and him doing well, they are treading water in a not good, but tight division. They are heading into the night with Calgary and Edmonton having the potential to leap from them in the standings.

The Leafs on the other hand find themselves in a rare situation where they will begin and end the night in a playoff spot, but will still be watching the out of town scoreboard to see how Florida does against Chicago. Odds are the Leafs will need to win to maintain their buffer.

The game starts at 7:00 PM ET and can be seen on CBC and Sportsnet.

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