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Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski - USA Today

Leafs look to claw back to even strength 

In the second half of a back to back the Leafs look to level the playing field with a win in Play-in Series game four. This one will be a thriller, to say the least. A loss in this game will knock the Leafs out of the Playoffs since this is a best of five series. 

 

Fans remain on edge after the result of the game that was less than 24 hours ago. The offense was a positive factor throughout. It had us see a first from Nick Robertson, a short-handed goal from Cody Ceci, and some amazing opportunities (even though they didn’t go in). Having said this, something we could see at the forefront of this stress is what could be called a “defensive slack” from the team, especially in the third. 

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It’s something Leafs fans know all too well. They get way too comfortable after achieving a nice lead. Their foot comes off the gas, play is without purpose, and this gives the opposition the perfect opportunity to swoop in and take the game right from under their noses. Tonight we need the exact opposite from the Leafs. Seeing a defensively sound team and an offense that clicks just as well as it did for the first half of last night (or even better), is a must. We know this team has it in them, they just need to prove it come game time. 

 

The Maple Leafs making the series even at 2-2 is the end goal, so let’s hope the Leafs we know and love can get the job done! 

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Lines

 

Here’s a look at the projected lineup for tonight’s game:

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LW C RW Forwards
Zach Hyman
ZACH HYMAN

Rating: 74.6#33 LW

Auston Matthews
AUSTON MATTHEWS

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Rating: 82.3#6 C

Mitch Marner
MITCH MARNER

Rating: 76.6#18 RW

FL1 Rating
Rating: 77.83#4 FL1
William Nylander
WILLIAM NYLANDER

Rating: 76.1#23 LW

John Tavares
JOHN TAVARES

Rating: 77.6#15 C

Ilya Mikheyev
ILYA MIKHEYEV

Rating: 74.0#42 RW

FL2 Rating
Rating: 75.90#4 FL2
Nicholas Robertson
NICHOLAS ROBERTSON
Alexander Kerfoot
ALEXANDER KERFOOT

Rating: 70.8#113 C

Kasperi Kapanen
KASPERI KAPANEN

Rating: 71.5#87 RW

FL3 Rating
Rating: 71.17#18 FL3
Kyle Clifford
KYLE CLIFFORD

Rating: 69.5#131 LW

Pierre Engvall
PIERRE ENGVALL

Rating: 71.0#98 C

Jason Spezza
JASON SPEZZA

Rating: 69.4#126 RW

FL4 Rating
Rating: 69.98#21 FL4
DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS Defense
Travis Dermott
TRAVIS DERMOTT

Rating: 71.7#83 LD

Justin Holl
JUSTIN HOLL

Rating: 72.0#61 RD

DL1 Rating
Rating: 71.84#27 DL1
Morgan Rielly
MORGAN RIELLY

Rating: 75.3#14 LD

Cody Ceci
CODY CECI

Rating: 70.8#94 RD

DL2 Rating
Rating: 73.05#17 DL2
Martin Marincin
MARTIN MARINCIN

Rating: 71.0#13 LD

Tyson Barrie
TYSON BARRIE

Rating: 75.3#21 RD

DL3 Rating
Rating: 73.19#5 DL3

 

 

Goaltenders

 

The goalie situation is a bit of a tossup for both teams. 

 

Since Frederik Andersen faced 43 shots last night the Leafs may be hesitant with giving him the start. This is also a must-win game, so throwing in a cold goalie (Jack Campbell) won’t be optimal. At the same time, putting in a tired one won’t do us any better. I’m leaning towards Campbell getting a chance just based on the number of shots faced in the 3rd and OT, 14 and 13 respectively. 

 

For Columbus, this isn’t as difficult of a decision. From the beginning, it was always a close race between Korpisalo and Merzlikins. Korpisalo’s SV% was sitting at .911 before the play-in series and Merzlikins had a .928 SV%. With a perfect game from Merzlikins, it seems like a no brainer that he’d get the start today. The thing is with Tortorella, you never know what he has up his sleeve.

 

Players to watch

 

For the Maple Leafs, Mitch Marner and Alex Kerfoot are the ones to watch. Each has three assists in the series thus far and have made amazing plays to get there. The anticipation continues to rise for one of these skaters to finally capitalize and score a goal. 

 

Pierre Luc Dubois continues to be on the hot seat for Columbus to see if he can maintain his momentum from the previous game. It seems that the not-so-friendly bench conversation between Dubois and Tortorella kicked him into gear.

Will the Leafs find a way to shut down PLD, making his hat trick from game three the last we see of his offensive side? Do we see him reach another level in the game tonight? We’ll have to wait and see. 

 

Puck drop is scheduled for 8 pm EST. You can watch on CBC and TVA Sports in Canada, as well as NHL Network and Fox Sports Ohio in the US. 

Let’s keep the hype going! GO LEAFS GO!

Watch Scott Maxwell’s hype video HERE

All stats unless otherwise noted are from Hockey-Reference.com.